Yesterday’s Platform was about ethical dilemmas at work and featured three of our own members talking about some sticky situations they’ve run into in their careers. Leader of the Society Joe Chuman moderated.
Jim Norman, a long time newspaperman at many papers including the New York Times, the New York Post and The Record, spoke about how the changing political environment has affected relationship between reporters and their employers . He related how when he was just starting out during the era of the great civil rights marches and anti-Vietnam war marches, he asked his editor if it would be OK if he attended as a participant (i.e., a supporter) and was told that as long as he kept his personal politics out of his news articles he could do whatever he wanted. However, more recently, when he was active in the Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence, he and his newspaper were trolled on the internet by a gun-rights extremist and accused of bias and his editor told him he had to stop his private work as an individual in the Brady Campaign.
Jim told one amusing anecdote having to do with the issue reporting facts vs. what today might be called “alternate facts”. When he was just starting out in the business, an editor told him, “If you have one guy who says it’s raining outside and another guy who says it isn’t, your job is not to report both sides of the story. It’s to stick your head out the f****n window and see if it’s raining!”
Dr. Amy Baker, a developmental psychologist who is an expert in “parental alienation” in which “divorcing parents use children as pawns, trying to turn the child against the other parent”. She has written many papers in academic journals, published a number of books (which you can read about here) and has testified as an expert witness in about 30 trials.
She was herself so alienated by the legal process and the attack mentality of opposing counsel which often loses sight of the best interests of the child that she recently decided to stop serving as an expert witness. She continues to coach parents and children about strategies in dealing with these difficult situations.