Drew Johnson’s editorial, titled “Take your jobs plan and shove it, Mr. President: Your policies have harmed Chattanooga enough,” went viral and drew national attention earlier this week when President Obama visited the city.
The newspaper released a statement Thursday saying Johnson had been fired for “placing a headline on an editorial outside of normal editing procedures.”
“The headline was inappropriate for this newspaper,” the statement read. “It was not the original headline approved for publication, and Johnson violated the normal editing process when he changed the headline.”
Johnson, who had been with the newspaper for just over a year, addressed his firing on Twitter.
“I just became the first person in the history of newspapers to be fired for writing a paper’s most-read article,” he tweeted.
Johnson defended the headline, noting that “we change headlines all the time without incident or issue.”
The newspaper denied Johnson’s firing had anything to do with the content of his editorial.
“The Free Press page has often printed editorials critical of the president and his policies,” the newspaper stated.
The Times Free Press has two editorial pages — one conservative and the other liberal.
“This newspaper places high value on expressions of divergent opinion, but will not permit violations of its standards,” the newspaper stated.
Conservatives cheered but some of Johnson’s fellow journalists were not so pleased. Atlanta Journal-Constitution columnist Jim Galloway called it “rude” and “downright hostile.”
On the bright side, Johnson tweeted that “I do have time to work on the roasted chestnut business now.”