Tag Archives: Media Ethics

Heading West: Follow Me To ColoROBo

Well, I’m actually doing something that I’ve talked about for years. I’m relocating this week to a small town in the mountains in Colorado, Woodland Park. I hope you’ll follow me on the journey and as I post on my new blog, ColoROBo, about life in Colorado, matters of interest in the media, and my efforts to more fully embrace a writer’s life by publishing a novel.

I started this blog, PR On The Run, nearly five years ago, while I was teaching classes in the School of Journalism and Mass Communication at Kent State in media ethics, public relations and writing — and working with the most outstanding group of young people anywhere: students in Flash Communications. I figured that if I was going to stand in front of a class and opine about changes shaping public relations and journalism, I better at least make an attempt to understand blogs and blogging and how to write for readers online rather than in print.

I’ve had a blast, even though I’ve never gained that big of an audience or made a penny from these daily digital brain droppings. But it forced me to keep current on events — and to keep writing.  And hey. For someone obsessive enough to get up nearly every day for more than 30 years before 4 a.m. to hit the concrete or treadmill for a five-mile run, spending an hour or so cobbling together a few hundred words isn’t all that tough. Mostly, I appreciate those who took the time to read these posts and to add their perspective through thoughtful comments.

Even without the move to Colorado, it would have been a good time to bring an end to PR On The Run.

I’ve discovered that I really don’t have anything new or important to add to the discussion of public relations. I’ll always believe that ethical, honest and timely communications form the heart of a successful public relations program. But the field now seems to be dominated by tactical discussions about the use — and many times misuse — of social media: Facebook, Twitter and so on. That’s not necessarily bad. It’s just something I don’t understand — and quite honestly, don’t really care about.

And I’ve become extremely cynical about the ability of our elected leaders in Washington and elsewhere to take any action that benefits the public, rather than their own re-elections or vested interests. Better not to comment than to be negative about just about everything in the public arena these days. And I’m liberal on some issues, conservative on others. That makes for some pretty tepid opinions in a venue that encourages writers to hurl lightning bolts and take no prisoners.

And more and more I’ve become interested in issues involving the sorry state of public education in the country — and the growing attack on teachers that will do nothing but make a bad situation worse. Unlike beach volleyball, these apparently aren’t issues of widespread interest or concern. Too bad.

So I don’t have a final post for PR On The Run.

No need.

I’m not retiring from blogging or anything else I find interesting and enjoyable, including running and drinking Jameson. I’m going to keep writing in a different forum, ColoROBo, and from a different perspective as I begin the next stage in my life living above the clouds.

I’ll be back in early September.

In Colorado.


Ethics: Would You Quit Your Job Over This?

Well, we made it to Friday. Since for most this is the end of the workweek, I doubt that Friday is the day when people jump up and voluntarily quit a job. Sunday night — maybe. And that is if you’re fortunate enough to have a job if you want one at all, given our lingering high unemployment. So here’s the question. Would you quit your job over a matter of, ah, ethics?

I wrote about ethics yesterday, calling for a higher standard of conduct not just for elected officials but really for all of us. And when I was teaching a class in media ethics at Kent State, I asked students whether they would quit a job if they believed they were in a situation where they would have to compromise their ethical principles. That question always sparked considerable conversation — but no resolution since no real jobs were actually on the line.

So I read with interest this morning an article in the New York Times (“Pressure Mounting, Paterson Loses Aide and Consults Lawyer“) about Peter E. Kauffmann, who has quit his job as NY Gov. David A. Paterson’s communications director. According to the NYT, Kauffmann said he could no longer “in good conscience” continue in that role for the governor. Ouch.

The back story is that Paterson is standing in some deep doo-doo, facing allegations of ethical and perhaps other misconduct.

But back to Kauffmann — again from the NYT article:

The official, Peter E. Kauffmann, submitted his resignation the day after he was interviewed for several hours by prosecutors from the office of Attorney General Andrew M. Cuomo, which is investigating the administration’s response to a domestic violence case involving another top aide to the governor, David W. Johnson.

The inquiry is focused on whether the State Police or the governor pressured a former companion of Mr. Johnson, Sherr-una Booker, who told the New York City police that she has been beaten by Mr. Johnson, to keep quiet about the episode and not pursue an order of protection against Mr. Johnson.

Mr. Kauffmann told the investigators that he had come to doubt the veracity of what he was being instructed by the governor to say to reporters about the episode involving Mr. Johnson, people with knowledge of the investigation said. Mr. Kauffmann said he was unsure whether the governor was misleading him, or was misinformed himself, these people said.

“As a former officer in the United States Navy, integrity and commitment to public service are values I take seriously,” he said in a statement on his resignation. “Unfortunately, as recent developments have come to light, I cannot in good conscience continue in my current position.”

Clearly I don’t know the full story here. And because of that I’m many times reluctant to opine on these type of stories — using specific individuals to illustrate bigger points. But assuming the facts are accurate as reported, then Kauffmann serves as a concrete example of what we used to talk about in class.

You can’t compromise your integrity — your values — your credibility. Those points get to the heart of ethical conduct. And there may be situations — fortunately, I believe, not that many — where you have to make a tough decision to stay put — or resign.

Would you quit your job over a matter of ethics?

Media Ethics and Steve Jobs

If you are interested at all in the subject of media ethics — from the standpoint of journalism and PR — here are two stories that are worth reading. Both involve Steve Jobs, privacy and financial disclosure and transparency.

Health Isn’t A Personal Issue When You’re A Legend” — Joe Nocera, NYT.

The Media’s Rotten Reporting on Apple” — Daniel Lyons, Newsweek.com.

Here’s from the article by Lyons:

The larger takeaway is what this episode says about how the media covers Apple. It’s one thing for PR flacks to tell lies. That is, after all, what they get paid to do. But it’s another thing for the media to join in on the action.