Do I owe them anything?

I have an ethical question for you. I’m doing my doctorate on a particular aspect of journalism. I also work two days a week for a news organisation. A lot of the stuff I’m reading about could really benefit this organisation, but knowing that I’ll be researching them in the near future, I probably shouldn’t tell them about it. It will give them an unfair advantage, I guess.

Thing is, a lot of the people I work with are really nice. I consider them friends. So I feel like I’m being mean by not telling them things that will improve their product.

There’s also ego involved, of course. (What journalist doesn’t have an ego problem?) If they become a better news organisation because of what I tell them, then that makes me look pretty damn good.

ManFriend says I don’t owe them anything. That if they want my expert knowledge that falls outside my job description, they can bloody well pay me for it.


11 responses to “Do I owe them anything?

  1. Ah, the perils of working for news organisations whilst simultaneously analysing them.

    I agree with your ManFriend that you don’t “owe” them anything. But that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t tell them – particularly if you want to get into the area you’re researching from a strategy perspective, it could be both fun and beneficial to share your knowledge.

    • Hi Rachel, I thought you might have something to say about this. I’m not sure what I want to do with my doctorate, I’m just focussed on getting it.

      • Are you concerned about giving them an unfair advantage that might influence the results of your research, or are you concerned about just generally giving them an advantage over other news organisations?

        In terms of my previous comment, I guess I meant you might find it interesting/fun/useful to put whatever you’re studying into practice (and it could lead to interesting opportunities within your company, too boot). Then again, that might not appeal to you, and if sharing the information you’ve collated will bias the results of your research, it’s probably best that you don’t share it.

  2. No you don’t owe them anything for free- but would it be useful as a… case study for your research perhaps?

    • Perhaps. But there is an element of giving them an unfair advantage. And devaluing my knowledge by just giving it away. After all, knowledge isn’t like my virginity, which I’ve kept all nice and pristine for my wedding night. Ha ha.

  3. I wouldn’t tell them a bloody thing.

    Despite Senior Execs constantly carping on about “how employees are our most important asset” and “we value your input” and “we encourage risk-takers” nothing could be further from the truth.

    Offering input, despite how useful it may be to them, if it’s outside your normal sphere of influence, may prove to be threatening to some people.

    I was in a similar position quite some time ago, and when I offered my opinion as to how a particular project could be dramatically improved, achieved and make the company look good all at the same time, my “input” was cast aside because it made thos people who were responsible for the project look archaic and incompetent.

  4. of course you are making the assumption that they a) care in general b) respect your opinion c) will change based on your theories.

    The reality is they may just ignore you and you have wasted your time and then feel stupid. or someone else hoards the idea and then takes credit for it later. maybe I’m just an old cynic.

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