A week or so ago, I discovered this Web log by business writers about business writing, so I added it to the blog roll and started consuming its RSS feed.
This morning, I’m a little disappointed in it. The Talking Biz News response to a CEO’s complaint about a local paper misusing the word “fired” in a headline is fairly shocking.Â Here’s Talking Biz News’ conclusion:
No matter how a company lets go of its workers, whether they are part of an â€œeliminationâ€? or a â€œreduction in forceâ€? or a â€œrightsizingâ€? or a â€œdownsizingâ€? or any of the other euphemisms and corporate speak that companies use to make what theyâ€™ve done sound better, itâ€™s still a firing or a â€œtermination.â€?
A newspaperâ€™s job is not to sugarcoat but to tell the truth. Get over it.
When an employee is fired, it is for a specific reason related to that employee’s work or the employer’s belief that said employee’s work is not up to standards. An employee is fired for cause (whether real or imagined). When positions are eliminated, it is a layoff and the presumption is the employees lost their jobs through no fault of their own.
This is just basic stuff, I’m surprised it needs to be explained to business writers — to any journalists, for that matter.
The headline in question was not only wrong, it was libelous. The Racine Journal Times should count itself lucky if the worst that happens is a polite op-ed from the CEO who eliminated the jobs.
The headline is also poor journalism because it misleads the public about what is going on in the local job market. The employees were not “fired” because they screwed up, and therefore will be replaced. The jobs were eliminated and now there are 50 fewer jobs in the local employment market, and 50 neighbors looking for new careers.
[tags]business, journalism, ethics, accuracy[/tags]