James McNair has been unfired.
"My termination of last August has been converted to the voluntary acceptance of a buyout,¨ McNair wrote in an e-mail last week. "That's all I'm legally able to say about the subject."
McNair had been the award-winning, aggressive and hard-hitting business reporter at The Cincinnati Enquirer who was fired Aug. 16 because, as his termination letter stated, "(i)n light of recent complaints, our confidence that you could improve in this regard — to report in a fair and balanced manner — was severely shaken."
McNair, who had been with The Enquirer since 2001, conceded to CityBeat back in August that "I've pissed off a lot of companies" (see "Too Tough for The Enquirer?," issue of Aug. 29, 2007).
Contacted for further comment, McNair, 54, said he couldn't go into any detail on the terms of this development. He never did file a lawsuit, but he did hire an attorney, Randy Freking, who represented at least one other former Enquirer reporter, Larry Nager, who was fired by the newspaper four years ago. Nager filed an age discrimination suit; his case was settled out of court.
"I'm happy to put this behind me," McNair said of the development.
McNair has kept busy the past five months doing research for investment firms and law firms and spent a month doing investigative research for a dot-com company.
He still lives in the area but hasn't applied to newspapers in other markets since he has three daughters in public schools here.
"I'm not willing to move my wife and three girls out of Cincinnati," he said. "The whole point of staying was so I didn't interrupt, didn't want to jerk them out of school."
McNair doesn't know what he might do down the road.
"I'm open to anything," he said. "I just want to be part of something that's going somewhere, whatever that might be, whatever livelihood that might be. What I'm doing now calls for many of the skills I've acquired in 29 years of newsgathering. I've got clients that are very happy to put my skills to use.
"Deep down I'll always be a reporter at heart. It's all I've ever done, it's what I do best. I know many newspapers that still want the kind of reporting that I delivered. I came to appreciate the role that reporters play in society, the watchdog role over institutions.
"And I'll miss the connection with the readers and the public, fulfilling a reporter's duty of informing the public of what it doesn't know. That's what I'll miss."
CONTACT LEW MOORES: [email protected]