Thursday, December 12, 2013

Advisers Acting Un-Ethically

While I was Managing Editor at Pasadena City College, two administrators were charged with allegedly accepting bribes from and LED light company and getting a free trip to India to 'Inspect' the factories.  I have a friend that is a real estate agent and I asked him to look up the houses of the administrators to see whether there was anything interesting about their homes.

I wanted to find that they had just bought a new million dollar home or just re-modeled their kitchen with brand new appliances. All I found was a modest home with a reasonable mortgage, nothing unusual. I shared the info with my partner Senior Editor and we both decided it was not newsworthy information and did not need to be reported, I threw the print out in the trash.

Three days later the paper comes out with this article on 8, the back page:

Notice that the comments for this article are closed.  This is because of the windfall of angry comments that were received about this article.  They included comments about how pointless the article was, how it hurt the credibility of the newspaper, and that the article seemed like something out of the National Enquirer.

My adviser somehow got a hold of this information. He then wrote this article at the last minute and put a staff writers name on it (without informing him) and placed the article on the last page of the news section. We had no News Editor, so this was MY section; I designed it, I picked and edited the articles for it, and I laid out the all the news pages, along with my managerial responsibilities.  I had left the office at around 1:15AM after finishing my pages.  The next morning I find this article in the paper.

I don't know what my advisers reasoning were for printing it, and when i confronted him he denied doing it completely. But if I had to guess, it was my advisers upbringing as a journalist.  My adviser was originally from South Africa, and as we discussed in class, UK journalism seems to have a utilitarian perspective.  He may have thought that since we had the info, everyone in the PCC community needed to have the info as well.

Whatever his reasoning, I disagreed and so did the rest of my editors and writers.  We at some point had a yelling match in class about our displeasure with the article, I hope he figured out that it was unethical for him to do what he did. As editor of the section and Managing editor of the newspaper I was obviously pissed that the entire PCC community saw this article.

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