No assholes allowed

“The price? Toxic workplaces, talent drain, skewed covering, lawsuits, long-term damage to news organizations’ reputation and credibility, and loss of revenue from advertisers, subscribers, and members.”

Matt Lauer, Mark Halperin, Charlie Rose, and all the other fallen sexual harassers had one thing in common. They were notorious assholes. (See Venn diagram below.)

They yelled at people, belittled staff in front of colleagues, threatened, bullied, interrupted, mocked, and generally threw their weight around. We thought it was the price to pay for the talent of great men. Maybe being an asshole was even a sign of great talent.

It was a sign, all right.  A sign that something was very, very wrong. And the price? Toxic workplaces, talent drain, skewed covering, lawsuits, long-term damage to news organizations’ reputation and credibility, and loss of revenue from advertisers, subscribers, and members.

Prediction: In 2018, newsrooms adopt a no-assholes rule. You want to be an asshole? Sorry, you can’t work here.

(Credit for inventing the No Asshole Rule goes to Stanford professor Robert I. Sutton.)

Marie Gilot is the director of CUNY J+, the professional development arm of the CUNY Graduate School of Journalism.

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