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The deadline, the decision

I just got off the telephone with a friend who is managing editor of two newspapers in a chain of publications. Whenever he calls at this hour, I know it's not because he wants to socialize. He was calling to get my opinion on how to handle a deadline situation regarding a big, serious story.

The two of us back-and-forthed the details and then reached a decision we both were comfortable with. During our conversation, I kept remembering one of the values of the university where I teach: Respect the dignity and worth of every individual. That was the principle I kept coming back to as I thought about what my friend was telling me.

My 22 years in newsrooms provided a further foundation for my thinking. I always made decisions thinking that if I was going to make a mistake, I would make it on the side of caution. You can always push the story out further for the next news cycle. If you're wrong, you can't take it back.

I'm guessing—no, I know—that other media outlets are going to treat the story more sensationally. They'll be able to justify the way they handle it. But that won't mean they're right.


( 6 comments — Leave a comment )
Aug. 8th, 2012 12:49 pm (UTC)
Those 22 years of experience and the value you referenced = going to bed with a clear conscience that you helped your friend reach a good decision about how to handle that story.
Aug. 8th, 2012 02:25 pm (UTC)
Thanks, Jamie. Between the two of us, we got to a point where we both were comfortable. Actually, I just asked him questions so *he* could get to the point where he was comfortable with a decision I suspect he already had made.
Aug. 8th, 2012 03:41 pm (UTC)
I was thinking the same thing: the fact that you had that conversation and then went to bed and were able to sleep says much. Bravo.
Aug. 8th, 2012 04:11 pm (UTC)
I frequently toy with the idea of getting back in The Game when I leave SBU (and I have no plans to do so), but it would be under my terms, and I don't think the Jim-Jims at the OTH would consider rocking their boat of "good enough."
Aug. 8th, 2012 12:57 pm (UTC)
Nice that your friend's employer allows space for ethics.
Aug. 8th, 2012 02:21 pm (UTC)
His publisher readily admits he's a numbers guy, not a words guy, so my friend has a great deal of freedom when it comes to matters of news.
( 6 comments — Leave a comment )

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