Standing up and being counted

I have just been watching a diet programme on Channel 4 and was stunned at the misleading pseudo health information put on really unhealthy foodstuffs by household name companies. The people who do this have to know it is wrong and deceptive. They must sit in meetings discussing doing this. Not all of them can feel comfortable.

Following on from my last post about bullying attitudes in the workplace one of my aspirations for social media in business is that one day, when people get confident enough to say what they think, enough of them might just get the gumption together to stand up and say “guys this is wrong”. Maybe then we could put a stop to this sort of crap.

8 thoughts on “Standing up and being counted”

  1. The answer to this, which I did some work on last year, is to crowdsource data about products, and put it on a website that can be accessed by scanning the barcode on the package.

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  2. Knowledge is power, or so they say.This axiom is increasingly debatable in an era of spin and manipulation / control of access to information, notwithstanding all the discussion(s) of openness and transparency.Maybe "knowledge used to be power" ? Until enough stand up, as you point out. Begs the issue of critical thinking, etc.

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  3. A good antidote is on BBC4 right now where Susan Jebb traces 50 years of dietary information and behaviours in the UK. Now = 9pm to 10pm today, January the 7th, 2010.

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  4. couldn’t agree more, Euan. Over the past few months I have been appalled by the widespread lack of backbone, moral fibre or integrity – call it what you will. The problem is, though, that those who do stand up and point out to colleagues that the Emperor has no clothes are usually the ones that get taken to task by those who are suited by complicity in deception.So the moral high ground is usually over-run with squatters.When that happens, it takes some guts to stand fast, rather than backing down or walking away.My experiences in the latter part of 2009 formulated my resolution for 2010: stick to my principles with a clear conscience. Those with negotiable integrity can get stuffed. </rant>

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  5. You know, Euan, I’m not unsympathetic to this. But I think the focus is a bit misplaced.For example, blogs haven’t made any significant change to the way news is reported. The more meaningful change is to how people digest that news. I am cheered to see how much less willing individuals are to believe something just because they heard it on the news or read it in the paper – no matter how much that outlet professes to be "objective" (BBC) or "fair and balanced" (FOX). In the past, someone would see a news report about a subject which they knew a lot about, see that it was misinformed and untruthful, and not be able to do much beyond whinge to their mates or write a letter to the editor. People now have the ability to share with others just how full of crap much reporting is, and to spread the news. We all benefit from being exposed to the full breadth of just how much of journalism gets it wrong. Yet the journos still try it on. Example: Just yesterday, I read news reports from the Mirror and Telegraph about a political situation with which I am personally involved. Even knowing what I do about many journalists, I was shocked at how far out of his way Paul Routledge went to report the story erroneously (but for maximum sensationalism). It’s much the same with how companies find ways around legislation when advertising or making product claims on packaging. Remember a few years ago when Jason Calacanis was calling for a "blogger code of ethics"? As my friend Matt Welch said then, ‘In my experience, the people keenest on Ethics Guidelines are those made nervous by truly free expression, those frustrated by a lack of comprehensible industry standards for outside advertisers, and/or those looking to see how much they can “ethically” get away with.’Same thing with government intervention into how products are marketing. Make all the guidelines you like, and the companies will find ways to spin around them. I’m much more interested in getting rid of the regulation and forcing individuals to take responsibility for being informed, looking out for themselves, and not relying on others to keep them (or their money) safe. In the long run, this is our only hope.

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  6. My aspirations were much humbler Jackie. Just the incremental move towards more human checks and balances within the businesses themselves so that the worst bollocks is less likely to make the light of day.

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  7. thinking more about this topic over the past day has led me to reflect on the part that groupthink plays in the behaviour described by Euan in this post.In fact, I would suggest that corporate misdirection could not happen without groupthinking.Of course groupthink often has a very close relationship with bullying – especially when there are those who actively wish to use the power (force) of groupthink for their own purposes.

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