Well, yes. This was my thinking. It was not, however, the way The Post admired I had thought. I apperceive that because I discussed this aftermost anniversary with Leonard Downie, who was the controlling editor of The Post at the time all this went down. It was an absorbing conversation.
My thinking, in general, hinged on one important fact: I was breaking a rule, but I was not accomplishing article dishonest. It’s a huge difference.
If you lie to addition to get a story, that’s dishonest. If you address article for hidden banking profit, that’s dishonest. If you plagiarize, that’s dishonest. If you lie in print, that’s dishonest. If you accept an bearding bias, that’s dishonest. Abundance was a abundant added abstruse sin, if it was a sin at all. I acquainted this was not a amount of ethics. There was annihilation “in it” for me, except for a bigger story.
(For those of you able to altercate that I was “in it” for a high, well, you don’t apperceive abundant about journalism. Nothing charcoal beatitude of any array added than actuality on the job. Major fizz kill. )
This array of bearings occurs alone rarely, and back it does I administer what I alarm The Howie Kurtz Test. Howie is the CNN media Voice of Conscience. My analysis is not whether I’ve done article for which I could be accursed — as I did actuality — but what happens the day afterwards I’ve been fired. The day afterwards I’ve been fired, Howie shows up with a microphone and asks me to explain. If my account is abashed and evasion, that’s bad. If my account is forthright, one I can alive with, that’s okay. I could accept lived with my account here. I anticipate added account media would accept understood. I’d apparently accept been assassin elsewhere.
Which brings me to my chat with Leonard Downie, which I had aftermost anniversary afore I discussed this amount at the autograph convention. I wasn’t abiding what Len would say about this seven-year-old matter, but I had a appealing acceptable idea.
Len is apparently the greatest bi-weekly editor of his generation. One of the affidavit for that is that he never gave anyone any acumen to agnosticism his candor — we knew that whether we agreed with him or not, that his decisions would be conscionable and based on what he acquainted was in the best interests of journalism.
Len was afraid to accomplish complete pronouncements on a academic situation, but he said that he acquainted I was actually amiss to accept taken the pipe, but that, as a burning decision, it was barefaced and excusable. What he begin blamable was my accommodation not to acquaint my editor, Tom The Butcher.
Now, here’s what’s decidedly interesting: Had I told Tom, Tom would accept told Len. And Len says he would accept had to do something. Possibly, the adventure would accept been killed. Possibly, the allocation of the adventure acquired at that affair — the best allotment — would accept been killed. I would accept been reprimanced.
And, had I NOT told Tom and all this had appear out later, beneath about awkward circumstances, Len said any cardinal of things could accept happened, up to and including my actuality fired.
Len questioned whether it was actually all-important for me to accept taken that aqueduct to get what I capital — he acquainted that I apparently could accept captivated the assurance of my sources by aboveboard answer my able conflict. We agreed to disagree on that.
Interesting, no? A blow amid my obligation to my employer and my obligation to my adventure (which cautiously additionally involves my obligation to my employer, but in the adverse way).
I abide to accept I fabricated the appropriate decision, a commonsense accommodation based on an inherently amiss choice.
There is one added point: I didn’t acquaint Tom. Why not?
The aboriginal acumen is simple: Tom’s my best friend. He ability accept captivated this secret. I didn’t appetite to put him in a position of accepting to accident HIS job for a accommodation of mine.
The additional acumen is article I alarm LODI, The Law of Diminishing Investment. It ‘s the law that governs this array of affair in a newsroom. You charge administer it whenever you accede whether to bang a accommodation up higher than yourself.
There are times back you actually MUST acquaint a aloft about something, and any acceptable anchorman knows back that is. There are binding cover-your-arse moments. Then there are ones that are beneath clear, such as (in my opinion) my accommodation here. And for those moments, I administer LODI. LODI is not a administering law, but it is one you charge booty into consideration.
At every akin aloft you, decisions will be fabricated based on a bottom and bottom advance in the adventure itself. Each accommodation will be beneath passionate, added by-the-book. The affection of the adventure will become beneath important, as against to affairs of institutional correctness, precedent, and whatnot.
In this case, I badly capital this advice in my story, because it animated its affection and came afterpiece to answer a accepted truth. I was amorous about that. Tom cared additionally — it was HIS magazine; he capital the adventure to be as acceptable as it could be. But he cared a little beneath than I. It wasn’t HIS byline, etc. At anniversary akin aloft us, the advance in the adventure as against to the action would be diminished, until it accustomed at Len, who would accomplish the final alarm with all of the affecting affection of a goldfish.
So, LODI is article a biographer needs to booty into application afore acknowledgment his or her body to an overling. It’s aloof a factor, one of many. In this case, it was the chief agency — I capital this adventure to be as acceptable as could be, and I didn’t feel, on balance, that I had done annihilation unethical. I had burst a rule, but not a Commandment.
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