It looks like Fox News will not be the only major news network to face scandal this year. Over at NPR, there is dissension in the ranks over CEO Jarl Mohn’s apparent lack of a decision in the case of Michael Oreskes. Oreskes was NPR’s news head, and he has been accused by multiple employees of harassment. Now, these women are claiming Mohn did not take their complaints seriously enough. They allege “repeated complaints” without any action taken.
Now, more information has come out, and it looks all bad for NPR. According to various media reports, at least some of the accusations against Oreskes date back two decades to his time at The New York Times. In a CNN report about the issue, one anonymous source is reported to have said: “I personally declined every invitation to meet with him, even just in his office, possibly to the detriment of my own career advancement, specifically because his reputation was so well known… The way Jarl has handled this since the story broke is making an already difficult situation much worse.”
That criticism of Mohn seems to be the consensus among many both in and out of NPR’s offices. They want to see more definitive action, and they wanted to see it much sooner. Mohn fired back, telling CNN that his office has been taking action: “We have been acting… Some of the steps we took were visible, and others weren’t. We have a process in place, and we followed that process…”
That excuse is not holding water with many critics, however. They’re okay with a “process,” but they want to see more results from that process.
In response to the growing discomfort at NPR offices, Mohn took the step of taking a segment on NPR’s popular news talk show "All Things Considered" with Mary Louise Kelly. During that interview, Mohn said the accusations against Oreskes amounted to “rumors and gossip” and that his office could not act on that information until they can back the rumors up with facts.
Though the comments seemed reasonable, staffers were not convinced the CEO is doing all he can to address the issue. They want to see an investigation by an outside company, rather than an internal inquiry that doesn’t seem to be going anywhere.
Now, there’s a report circulating that Oreskes is no longer employed by NPR, though no official reason has been given beyond a single statement. Oreskes, though, seems to be trying to get out ahead of the rumors before any facts are revealed. In a statement, he said: “My behavior was wrong and inexcusable … I accept full responsibility.”
While there was a tone of finality in the words, that is certainly not the end of the story, for Oreskes or NPR.
Ronn Torossian is one of America’s foremost Public Relations executives as founder/CEO of 5WPR, a leading independent PR Agency. The firm was honored as PR Firm of the Year by The American Business Awards, and has been named to the Inc. 500 List. Torossian is author of the best-selling "For Immediate Release: Shape Minds, Build Brands, and Deliver Results with Game-Changing Public Relations." For more of Ronn Torossian's reports, Go Here Now.
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