Indiana school officials not talking. What is so hard to understand about transparency?

March 8, 2007

It continues to surprise me, even stun me sometimes, that so many people in responsible positions don’t seem to understand the world we live in. When serious things go wrong on your watch, it is no longer socially acceptable (if it ever was) to hide out and not face the crowd. This applies to a company much in the news who decides to turn off a public website with tens of thousands of people coming to it every day as it does to these school officials with serious misdeeds going on in their classroom.

But, time to ask yourself again. Do the senior leaders in your organization (or you if you are one of them) understand that in this world of speed of light information, you must talk soon after a story erupts? You cannot wait until you have your ducks in a row and it all worked out with your professionals and your attorneys what to say. On the web, a juicy story can get an audience of hundreds or thousands or millions in mere hours–sometimes minutes. To be MIA in these circumstances is to concede all the worst that the worst of those who think the worst of you have to say about the situation. Really now, school officials, just come out of your bunker and say something.  Saying nothing did not kill the story. Instead the reporter had to quote parents (outraged), an attorney for the state (what does he have to do with this) and one school board member who happened to return a call (was she an authorized spokesperson?).

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