Surviving an Ethics Crisis
By Don Campbell
Don Campbell is a lecturer in journalism at Emory University and a former Washington reporter, editor and columnist.
1) Face reality: You may have a legal problem. You certainly have a staff problem. And a PR problem. Your own job may be on the line.
2) Don't rush to judgment: Get the facts before taking action against an employee or going public.
3) Don't trust your instincts. Seek advice from lawyers and colleagues.
4) Decide how much disclosure you "owe" your readers while protecting the rights of the wayward employee and the integrity of your news organization.
5) Make sure your staff knows everything that will be made public before it's made public.
6) Understand that how you react may leave a bigger impression than the misdeed itself, and that journalists will remember the crisis longer than your readers.
7) Give activists and outside interest groups a respectful hearing?and nothing else.
8) Use your damage control campaign to demonstrate leadership and invigorate the ethical culture of your newsroom.
9) Don't lose sight of your primary responsibility?putting out the best newspaper or newscast you can.
10) Hope that you have an understanding boss and a supportive network of family, colleagues and friends.