From Josh Barro at joshbarro.com:
Something happened at The Washington Post in recent days it has been so strange and detailed that it is difficult for me to explain it to people who do not work in journalism without sounding sensible. Mary Catherine Hem of CNN explains how this happens:
You may have noticed a strange trend in organizations staffed with younger liberals: internal disputes are no longer held internally, but are broadcast in public, on social media, or in the press, and furious subordinates attack their colleagues or condemn management decisions. society as a whole – and these actions were apparently allowed from above.
In the most extreme cases, you are falling apart, such as Diana Morales’ campaign for the mayor of New York, where workers went on strike, demanding, among other things, that the campaign devote part of its budget to “buying community food”. gifts.” However, this is especially a problem in the media, where so many employees have a large follower of social media that they can use to cheer up their employers, and where these employers have (unreasonably) cultivated a free social media culture where reporters are accustomed to commenting. all kinds of things not related to their coverage.
One example of this unreasonable culture is what started all this chaos: political reporter Dave Weeig retold a flashy joke about women.
I’m not as sympathetic to Dave as some of the other critics of this article put outlatest activities. This joke is not funny, and I understand why it offends people. Nor does it serve a professional purpose. Not only did he not have to retouch it, he (e.g. so many reporters at Post) should be less Twitter in general, and Post the management is interested in disciplining him for this tweet, although the monthly disqualification they have imposed on him is excessive.
And another Post employees would have had a credible reason to object to the tweet – to him, his editor or human resources. But instead of using these channels, Post reporter Felicia Sonmez – who says she “has long considered Dave a good friend” – It’s been days publicly diatribe about the retreat on Twitter, paying close attention to it and asking why it was “allowed” in the newspaper. I am literally talking about hundreds of tweets and retreats on the subject.
Weigel removed the reticle and apologized, but she continued to do so even after the paper suspended her for a month without a salary. It has been a one-woman campaign – attacking dozens of tweets Post management; do a word search for yourself and tweet screenshots of criticism she has received for a public assault on her colleague; retired praise from random Twitter accounts “I thank Felicia Sonmez for continuing to cover the story of the ongoing violence she receives because of Dave Weigel’s tweets. She has a lot more insides than me.
She is particularly angry at another colleague, writer Jose A. Del Real, for describing her behavior as “healing violence” and “toxic” and urging her to stop attacking her in such a public way. She wants to know why Post management does nothing him and his tweet.
I hate having written so many paragraphs about it. I hate to know so much about this dispute. It’s such a high school, and it shouldn’t be our business. These are all internal HR matters. But Sonmez is clear: she leads these fights in public because management responds more than when employees complain privately. By giving his “good friend” Veigel such a long period of disqualification and doing nothing to him, management only encourages him and others Post employees so that they blow up their colleagues more, which she has really done.
It is not appropriate to publicize such internal workplace disputes, even if you are right in essence. My statement is not only obvious, it is how almost all organizations work. If you think your colleague is sore, don’t talk about it. This is unprofessional. If you do not agree with the decisions of the management staff, you do not deny them to the public. It is disobedient. Organizations that are full of people who are publicly on each other’s throats cannot be effective. Your place of work is not Fleetwood Mac.
Del Real is true that Sonmes’s behavior is healing and toxic, but it is not his job to say that. Post management. And just because Post management is weak and incompetent, which does not mean that he has to replace his judgment, especially in a public forum. Similarly, although Sonmez doesn’t like the fact that management doesn’t always do something with tweets from other reporters that she finds “problematic,” that doesn’t mean she has to appeal the decision to Twitter. You don’t run out of paper; you don’t always get what you want.
Obviously, employees need a sharp reminder that disputes with colleagues are not caused in public. You have to be a team: you keep internal disagreements, and if you find the organization’s leadership, strategy, or editorial direction unacceptable, you leave and work somewhere else. But employees have seen it for years Post (and The New York Times) that such practices are not mandatory and the system will be shaken, which will mean greater employee discipline and the departure of employees for whom a culture of chaos is an important asset. They need to know that if they want to be toxic, they have to go to another newspaper.
Officially, this is the position The Washington Post that such behavior is not permissible. Executive Editor Sally Buzby sent a note to that effect on Tuesday afternoon, stating that “we do not allow colleagues to attack colleagues face to face or online.” But, of course, they have endured it, so we have come to this point. Both Sonmez and Del Real are currently violating this policy, but so are others Postemployees such as Nina Zafara, who accused Del Real “fragile feelings and lack of empathy”; or Taylor Lorenz, who accused Veigel last month on the “dissemination of misinformation about COVID and Long COVID”; or even Jacqueline Alemania, who Lawrence said in March that Lorenz ‘s comments to the reporter about her “brand” were “strange.”Alemania was 100% right, but that doesn’t make him a politician.
If I ran PostI would divide the penalties, including suspension, like candy, until all this nonsense is over.
This type of repression would not be directed against workers. It would be good for workers, because it is unfortunate to work in an organization where it is difficult to focus on your work, because you have to worry about who will attack you in public, undermine your decisions or interfere with some other accidental nature. a business group to attack the strategy that you are responsible for implementing. Functional organizations that are able to set and achieve goals benefit their employees; employees benefit from management insisting that other employees be good team members.
We have seen in the technology industry what the company looks like in a culture of free movement, chaotic struggle. Google stopped telling employees to work, began to force them to fight the policy, and punished those who didn’t follow the new rules. Employees of the “activists” were dissatisfied and left the company – well.1 Basecamp, a much smaller company, paid close attention to announcing that political battles would no longer be allowed, leading to a large rupture of clothing and the departure of the left. wing workers – this was the best, because it was an opportunity for employees and their organizations to better align with values.
There is the Models for information spaces where employees behave normally and professionally on social media, Slack and in their general communication with and about each other. You don’t see like Wall Street Journal or Axiosreporteri, who publicly criticize each other or condemn management for failing to run the store exactly as they would like. You also don’t see them sharing flashy jokes. Expectations of professionalism are raised from above and are met. Axios CEO Jim VandeHei explained in a recent episode Very serious Podcasting as they reduce the drama of the newsroom to a minimum – it starts with a clear hope that reporters will not “communicate” their views and talk to each other. And WSJ is a union shop, so I don’t want to hear about how it’s impossible to create a culture where reporters stick to their knits when they’re in a union.
After all, it’s on Post leadership they never set expectations for what they ultimately wanted to achieve. But it’s not too late to start.
Finally, I would like to point out one thing: organizations that are predominantly conservative have different problems, but they do not. And this phenomenon extends beyond the media, to non-profit organizations and to political organizations with liberal staff, where managers fear potential outbreaks of their employees and therefore allow them to overcome strategic goals and, in particular, make informed decisions that could help them win. elections, but does not meet all the checkboxes of the left keyboard warriors, which can cause so much trouble inside and outside the organization.
This kind of cultural correction is necessary not only to make these organizations less vulnerable; it is necessary for an effective political movement. Therefore, if you are a liberal, you should take care of toxic, anarchic work cultures, even if you do not personally work with one.
Joshua A. Barro is an American journalist and creator of the Very Serious newsletter and podcast. He previously ran the weekly radio program Left, Right, & Center, based at KCRW Los Angeles, and was a senior editor and journalist for Business Insider.