Is full transparency always the smartest move?

Is full transparency always the smartest move?474910328_2a788caeff

Crisis communications 101 teaches us that full disclosure of an ‘issue’ early and often is the best course for mitigating negative fallout.

The approach seems to work especially well in politics. How many politicians have short circuited such potential career disasters as drug use and infidelity by pre-empting an investigative reporter with a hastily-called press conference? The announcement is followed a feeding frenzy of short-term coverage but, usually, life goes on.

As we know, the pre-emptive, full disclosure strategy is aimed at defaming the media in particular. So, I found it fascinating last week to see a top reporter employ the very same technique in his own behalf.

The reporter was David Carr of The New York Times. His subject: the alleged ‘pit bull’ media relations strategies of Roger Ailes and his Fox Network. Sensing that his kiss-and-tell column would engender a spiteful retaliation, Carr ‘outed’ his own prior drug and alcohol abuse. Fair enough, such an admission may well have pre-empted a Fox counter offensive. But, at what personal cost?

I’ve long admired Carr and his work. Now, though, I’ll always think of him as David Carr of the Times, the recovering drug and alcohol addict. And, all future news searches will pull up the same information. Is that a good thing? 

The Web 2.0 world in which we live enables us to create and manage our personal image and reputation. So, my question is this: by disclosing his past problems in order to prevent a future Fox assault, did David Carr win the image battle, but lose the war?

One thought on “Is full transparency always the smartest move?

  1. Interesting dilemma, huh. I’m sure he has had to face it with his editor and Times management. So now he’s opened it up to the world.
    Would you think any differently of me if I said I was an addict? How about Ted or someone else with whom you have had a long-time relationship.
    So, you know a little bit more about David Carr. What skeletons are you hiding in your closet?
    Yes, you may be shocked or feel a little uneasy about the situation, but I would have to admire a guy like that.
    Having spent a dozen years in the newspaper business, it’s sort of routine to go to the bar for a few drinks.
    Who was the idiot on News4New York that got drunk a few months ago and was on the air? I think it’s acceptable in today’s society Steve.
    But David will have to face the consequences, if any, for his admission.