November 21, 2017 Last Updated 12:23 pm

Publishers and editors need to ensure there is no code of silence in their work places

How and when does all this end? Hopefully when we have created work environments where employees and managers are free to talk openly, and where there are real and immediate consequences for bad behavior by those in power

This has been one crazy year of covering digital publishing. Any website talking about the business of media has been instantly turned into one covering politics — unless they are one of those publications that intentionally avoids anything negative about the industry (that is to say, most trade pubs).

If every day seemed to bring another outrage from the new president, a new attack on the press, now we have the issue of sexual harassment, and each day comes accusations that someone in the media is suspect. Glenn Thrush of The New York Times, Charlie Rose of PBS and CBS, NPR top editor Mike Oreskes, and before them former ABC politics director Mark Halperin.

It is easy to have an opinion about what is going on, but hard to say anything original. For me, who worked 30 years in publishing, but now have only one employee and one manager (me) to deal with, one feels somewhat outside of the fray (which everyday I think is a good thing).

But as the days go by I am beginning to hear voices of reason regarding what is to be done about this problem. First, like any social problem, one has to first admit that it is real, that it cannot be denied. Then one must come up with a plan to address it.

The problem of sexual harassment is one of an imbalance of power. Whether you are Roy Moore going after teenagers, where the adult holds the power, or a manager or celebrity harassing an underling, the issue is about power.

But the power is in the fact that the victim does not feel empowered to say anything, and the person doing the harassing knows it. Break this cycle and the perpetrator knows that they will be reported immediately, that they are threatening their own careers.

In the end, this all feels like a communications problem — one where the victim is silenced and the perpetrator allowed to continue their behavior. The fact that many sexual harassment settlements involve the victim being forced to sign an NDA only contributes to the problem overall.

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As I said above, I’m not sure I have much to contribute that is new to this ongoing conversation in our industry. But I don’t want to totally avoid it, either. We can talk all we want about industry issues, but we shouldn’t avoid the huge problems we are facing today regarding political and social threats to our industry.

Here is some of the coverage:

Vox, Laura McGann:

NYT White House correspondent Glenn Thrush’s history of bad judgment around young women journalists

If Thrush is acutely aware of what young women face in the business of political journalism, he should also know it’s because he himself is one of the problems women face. Five years ago, when Thrush and I were colleagues at Politico, I was in the same bar as Padró Ocasio’s friend — perhaps the same booth — when he caught me off guard, put his hand on my thigh, and suddenly started kissing me. Thrush says that he recalls the incident differently.

Three young women I interviewed, including the young woman who met Thrush in June, described to me a range of similar experiences, from unwanted groping and kissing to wet kisses out of nowhere to hazy sexual encounters that played out under the influence of alcohol. Each woman described feeling differently about these experiences: scared, violated, ashamed, weirded out. I was — and am — angry.

The Washington Post, J. Freedom du Lac, Amy B Wang and Marwa Eltagouri:

‘I am not okay’: The remarkable response to the Charlie Rose allegations, from his CBS colleagues

“As tough as this story is, it’s important that we cover it,” Golodryga said.

And then, in a remarkable segment, Rose’s broadcast partners slipped out of their newswoman roles and spoke as . . . people, full of anger and bewilderment and betrayal.

“This is a moment that demands a frank and honest assessment about where we stand and more generally the safety of women,” O’Donnell said. “Let me be very clear: There is no excuse for this alleged behavior. It is systematic and pervasive.”

She added: “This has to end. This behavior is wrong. Period.”

The Washington Post, Callum Borchers:

Sexual harassment accusations against Charlie Rose and Glenn Thrush feed the ‘fake news’ narrative

While this is hardly the most important consideration at a time when more and more women are coming forward with accounts of predatory behavior by men in power, it is worth noting a negative side effect of the allegations against Rose, Thrush and other prominent media figures such as former NPR top editor Mike Oreskes and former ABC politics director Mark Halperin: The notion that these men successfully misled many colleagues and the public about their true natures feeds the “fake news” narrative pushed by President Trump, U.S. Senate candidate Roy Moore and others.

If they were fake in the way they presented themselves, the reasoning goes, maybe they were fake in their reporting, too. Maybe lots of reporting is fake.

TeenVogue, Lauren Duca:

The Hidden Cost of Sexual Misconduct

Here lies an unspoken tragedy of the #MeToo movement: the way the sheer force of harassment affects its victims, whether or not they come forward about their experiences. Left invisible are the countless number of people who have been shamed out of their industries after they were harassed or assaulted. There is much hand-wringing about the loss of talent represented by the downfall of such cultural juggernauts as Harvey Weinstein, Mark Halperin, Kevin Spacey, and Louis C.K. But we will never be able to quantify the number of victims who might have gone on to greatness if only their potential hadn’t been kneecapped by fear…

…For every abuser who has fallen, there are victims who have been taken down by exposure to his toxicity, who have had their ability to succeed forever maimed by the warping force of sexism. That is similarly true for all of the abusers who have yet to be exposed. I hope we can keep this top of mind as the #MeToo movement pushes forward. We owe it to ourselves to accept nothing less than a complete and total cultural change.

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