The employees and executives who work at CNN are a thick we — a 21st century community whose shared purposes and goals, shared roles and relationships in the company and shared ideas shape and determine their character as human beings. During their workday, CNN employees and executives depend on one another for significant aspects of their fates as people — from their material well-being in the form of wages and benefits to friendships and social affiliation to their pursuit of meaning and fulfillment. If they or anyone wishes to understand the values — the character — of what CNN employees and executives ‘stand for’, the best evidence lies in their collective beliefs and behaviors. A reliable guide can be found in what the CNN brand stands for — what blend of the pursuit of value (money, profit, wealth) and the pursuit of values such as objectivity, accuracy, free inquiry, dialogue and so forth.
Like others in this new world of markets, networks, organizations, friends and families, people who work at CNN might think — mistakenly — that what happens at CNN is just ‘a job’. That the decisions, actions, beliefs and behaviors on display from “9-to-5″ are merely ‘what happens at work” and bear little if any relationship to what they as human beings stand for and the nature of their character. This is a profound misunderstanding of the nature of being in a world of markets, networks, organizations, friends and family — in a world where our core experience of sharing fates with folks other than friends and family happens in organizations — not places.
When folks who work at CNN go home to their families, their kids and their friends, they must seek to integrate their work and home lives, not separate and isolate them if they are to avoid our unique form of 21st century schizophrenia. What happens at work speaks volumes about their character as people — and speaks that to their kids and others, not just their co-workers.
With that in mind, let’s ask the people who work at CNN about their values, about their belief and behavior in support of democracy, civility, the rule of law, family and tolerance as demonstrated in the recent choice to provide a talk show platform to a fellow named Glenn Beck. According to a spokesperson — a person from CNN who speaks on behalf of you, the employees and executives of CNN, who speaks about what you really stand for, Beck was hired not because CNN ‘wanted any political point of view or ideology’, but rather because ‘We set out to hire an entertaining, engaging talk show host, and his brand of humor and lighthearted approach was one we liked.”
The ‘we’ here are you — you, the people of CNN. This spokesperson is speaking on behalf of you and what you stand for. So, when you get home tonight, pull your kids together, invite over some good friends, and explain to them how thrilled you are to have Glenn Beck as a co-worker. In addition to his light humor and lack of any political ideology, go ahead and tell your kids about how, as a radio talk show host in Philadelphia, he “called victims of Hurricane Katrina “scumbags,” said “It took me about a year to start hating the 9/11 families,” called Cindy Sheehan, the mother of a soldier killed in Iraq, “a pretty big prostitute,” and said, “I’m thinking about killing Michael Moore, and I’m wondering if I could kill him myself, or if I would need to hire somebody to do it. No, I think I could.”
Tell your kids the values you really stand for.