Sunday, June 23, 2024

How to get rid of a boss: a case study.

So let's say that at your latest staff meeting at work, the Big Boss tells everybody on your team that you're getting a new supervisor. Oh, and by the way, your old supervisor was offered a brand-new position in the organization, but instead of taking it, she quit.

Now, you and your colleagues have heard some things about this new supervisor, none of them good. He has some sketchy behavior in his past -- unethical and possibly even illegal. You also know that he's a crony of the Big Boss, and that B.B. has been padding the C-suite with several of his cronies over the past few months -- in an effort, B.B. says, to make the company more profitable. But your company is no stranger to putting principles ahead of money; that's the way it has done business over many decades. And you and your colleagues sure as hell don't want to work for this sketchy new supervisor. So what do you do?

Welp, if you're the Washington Post newsroom, you assign an investigative team to run a bunch of stories about the shenanigans in your new supervisor's past so that he'll quit before he even starts the job. 

And it worked! On Friday, it was announced that Robert Winnett would not be joining the Post as its executive editor, after all. 

As a former journalist, I've been bemused by watching this unfold. Winnett was hired away from the London Daily Telegram by the Post's new chief executive officer and publisher, William Lewis. Both Lewis and Winnett are British. Both are White. They had worked together in the past, at the London Daily Telegraph and the Sunday Times.

But British newspapers have been known to play fast-and-loose with certain practices that are considered highly unethical to American journalists. From the link above, here, in a nutshell, is the dirt on these two guys:

A Post investigation published Sunday revealed Winnett's connections to a confessed con artist turned whistleblower who has admitted to using illegal methods to gain information for stories in Britain's Sunday Times...

The New York Times also reported that Winnett and Lewis had based some stories on stolen records, and raised new questions about a payment made to obtain information that led to a 2009 investigation into government corruption, which shook the British political establishment and led to several officials' resignations.

The Post story goes on to note, "Paying sources for information is considered unethical in most American newsrooms. So is representing oneself as anything other than a journalist to gain confidential information as part of newsgathering..."  

The way Winnett's predecessor was shown the door also rankled among the newsroom staff. Sally Buzbee was the first woman hired as executive editor at the paper, which won three Pulitzer Prizes this year. But Lewis decided she had to go anyway. He offered her a position heading up a brand-new division at the Post covering service news and social media -- which, to be honest, sounds a lot like kicking the little lady out of a man's job and sending her back to editing the women's page. Instead, she quit. 

And now Winnett isn't coming. But it's okay -- Winnett wasn't supposed to transition into the job until after the election this fall, anyway. In the interim, Lewis had hired Matt Murray, a former Wall Street Journal editor, to run the newsroom, and then helm the new division when Winnett came on board. Now I guess Murray will be the executive editor for the forseeable future. 

But never mind that. Don't you wish you had the power at your job to publicly embarrass your incoming supervisor and his boss by publicizing their sketchy pasts?


These moments of bloggy just deserts have been brought to you, as a public service, by Lynne Cantwell. Stay safe!

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