Wednesday, September 5, 2012


A sound phrase
Some years ago, I met Sal Glesser, CEO of Spyderco Inc, one of the most respected knife manufacturers in the world.
He has a small company that produces T-shirts and one of the phrases that he had coined was:   "Integrity is good even when no one is looking.."
And true to the motto, its also how Spyderco does its business. This is a phrase that you can put into practise and seriously, it doesn't hurt to be honest..

The Glessers: Father and son team Sal & Eric Glesser

Integrity in everyday life
There was a big hoo-haa about some part-time newspaper columnist who was told to stop writing because the said person had copied an article from an on-line site on real estate.
As soon as the shit had hit the fan, everything went viral on cyberspace.
 Whether this columnist is trained or not, the fact that the person was dishonest is tantamount to lying.
But this is not new. 
Some years back while I was working in the country's oldest newspaper, a Sub-Editor told me that he was hauled up by the 'then head honcho' to give reasons for not giving a reporter her byline.
The bossman told him that she had earned it through hardwork.
But little did he knew that the woman had plagiarised the entire story from a National News Agency.
All she did, was change the intro a bit and left the entire passage verbatim.
The wise Sub-Editor then collected enough evidence to cover his ass when the day comes.
So, when he faced the line of fire, the guy calmly pulled out a file and showed his boss the original copy and what the woman 'wrote'. Case closed.
And the reporter lasted only six months before moving on into the Public Relations sector.
This of course, is a story that took place nearly two decades ago.

The rot
I don't blame the columnist entirely for ripping off someone else.
The person who brought in this writer too is partly responsible.
As recent as 15 years ago, there was a drain in the talent pool, especially in our newspaper industry.
The good ones left, leaving the crud at the bottom. 
And when you are left with a bunch of ninkampoops running the show, disaster is bound to happen.
So begins the mutual masturbation club. 
Friends of friends were taken in to produce columns. And this went on. 
Take for instance a well-known person who has no talent in writing: if they can't do it, they will do anything within their means to meet the deadline. 
With so much pressure, one can easily resort to plagiarism.
The situation went from bad to worse 10 years ago when just about anyone whom the powers that be knows becomes a columnist.
Where I used to work, there were many attempts to 'revive' the product by re-branding. It didn't work. As a matter of fact, the said publication is now merely surviving by bulk sales to schools.
If the flow of shit doesn't stop, the mind rot will continue.
I guess the nail on the coffin that seals the oldest newspaper in the country's fate is the fact that they hired people with zero experience. If a feature writer can become an Editor in two years, this says it all.. 

The one that didn't get away
Citing the case of the unfortunate columnist, well, I guess the person's loss and the company's gain. That's some saving in terms of revenue since these 'columnists' are overpaid.
They think that they could get away, but ignorance is the straw that broke the camel's back.

Recognising in-house talent and the raw deal
I get paid a meager sum to produce a weekly column. I didn't ask for this and the only thing that kept me going was my set of principles.
While the Rockstars get a pile of money for writing crap, I did what I had to do for three square meals. 
As a matter of fact, I have to fork out expenses for travel and food in the name of entertaining the readers.
When integrity matters, I treat every article as an original. No bullshit, cut and paste from other people. 
For resources, I credit the other writers who put up background information about a said subject.
So, that said, an establishment should give emphasis to grooming its own talent rather than taking in cronies and friends of friends.
Otherwise, this shit will fester.
Lastly, taking into consideration what Mr Glesser had penned out in relation to integrity, its true that you will earn respect by being honest even when no one is looking..

No comments: