It's Just Business
We all make tough business decisions where there is no black and white, only shades of gray. A credit union loan officer might struggle with whether to approve a loan on D paper. Or a manager may decide that the best way to cut expenses is to lay somebody off, but is it the 30-year-old single mother with frequent absences or the 65-year-old who might not be as productive as he once was.
Journalism in particular might operate a lot more in the gray. Is this legitimate news, as in the CU of Atlanta CEO story? Do we have enough sources to support it? If we wait until morning for a source to call back, will we get scooped by our competitors?
As a reporter, I was always extremely cautious about putting my opinion into stories, so much so I had some difficulty at first in adjusting to the editor's role of writing a column. Now, while I'm permitted the luxury of public opinions, I still have to make tough calls on our reporting in an unbiased manner--even as others don't take the ethical high road.
It's no great secret that the credit union industry, nationwide, is like its own small community. Just about everyone knows everyone else it appears. As reporters and editors, we work with numerous sources to get our job done; some we might even consider professional friends.
Such was Tom Glatt, Sr., former CEO of REALTORS FCU and Continental FCU. We ran a story yesterday on the deed in lieu on his house in Arizona, which had been financed by Continental. I struggled with it but ultimately made the decision to run with this story, and here's why: 1) Tom is a very well-known credit union figure who regularly speaks at conferences; 2) he just left REALTORS FCU, which was hyped as the next generation credit union; 3) a credit union CEO left the members of his (at the time) credit union with a debt that had been approved by the credit union the CEO ran; and 4) while the issue is personal, it also was a matter of public record.
My final decision: The story was legitimate, timely and appropriate. Any decision I would have made would have had me ruminating about it all night, which I did. I know that's no consolation to Tom and his family, and I understand he'll probably never speak to me again. That's unfortunate. I do wish him well in his future endeavors. In the end, I made the right decision for Credit Union Times.