By James F. Bracher
Architect for the renewal of integrity-centered leadership
on KRML Radio - Carmel, California, April
Radio host Mike Jacobi
and James Bracher
KRML radio host Mike Jacobi invited Jim Bracher to discuss
integrity-centered leadership and how our society has
drifted from constructive values to actions and behaviors
that erode trust and confidence. Mr. Jacobi referenced
Integrity Matters (by Jim Bracher and Dan Halloran) and
wanted to know if publishing the book had made a difference
in Jim's management consulting business and his
Writing Integrity Matters has become a daily reminder,
Jim explained, about more effective ways to conduct oneself,
personally and professionally. The Eight
which the book was written are character, honesty, openness,
authority, partnership, performance, charity and graciousness.
Articulating and discussing these constructive ideals
does have an impact. To announce their importance means
that those who write and speak about appropriate behaviors
are obligated to model them.
Mike wanted to know how Jim prepares for the writing
of his weekly newspaper column, also titled: Integrity
Matters. Jim responded that the questions (and the responses)
are all around us all the time. He then mentioned that
to get ready for the KRML interview, Jim awakened and
was watching the movie, Lean on
Me about Joe Clark the
high school principal-educator who found himself, and
his team, cleaning up and then re-inventing a troubled
high school in Paterson, New Jersey. At one point in
the movie Principal Clark (portrayed by Academy Award
winner, Mr. Morgan Freeman) said," discipline is
not the enemy of enthusiasm". This statement challenged
Jim to be really clear that "boredom is not the
enemy of integrity, nor an excuse to cut corners simply
because it becomes tedious or demanding to maintain high
standards." Friends and readers let Jim know of
their integrity concerns and they often suggest books,
stories, movies, music and other people who might offer
constructive responses to challenging questions.
Jacobi wanted to know about the content for Jim's
next column. Jim discussed a recent Integrity
Matters newspaper column about the awful and sickening
story about the alleged finger in the bowl of Wendy's
chili and the woman who was creating a firestorm. Jim
spoke with some friends who work in the TV, radio and
print media. He wanted to find out if his thinking about
the issue was thorough. Jim learned that when the media
shines the spotlight on an issue the truth is often found.
It is not always about sensationalism, sometimes it is
about perseverance and fact-finding. In the Wendy's
story, the media were powerful partners with the police
in the search for truth.
Jacobi wanted to know how Jim assessed news programs
and reporting. Jim discussed information he had gathered
regarding the news that is important and essential. Over
and over, Jim mentions that real
news according to journalist-historian
Richard Reeves is "the news you and I need to keep
our freedoms." Unfortunately, much of what gets
reported to us is not real news, it has to do with entertaining
us and keeping us amused but not informed. Even though
Jim did not mention this level of detail about real news,
here are a few excerpts from a speech by Bill Moyers
that may shed light on our challenges.
In a keynote speech at the National Conference on Media
Reform, Moyers offered the following three quotable and
important insights followed by my own commentary, presented
"Free and responsible government by popular consent
just can't exist without an informed public."
My observation is that a growing number of people won't
seek information that might challenge their opinions.
Associating only with those who are like-minded can
lead to a drifting toward ignorance and even irresponsible
actions. This is no way to sustain and strengthen any
form of free government, most especially a democracy.
"The greatest moments in the history of the press
came not when journalists made common cause with
the state but when they stood fearlessly independent
Most of us recall the wisdom that power corrupts and
absolute power corrupts absolutely. The challenge for
those who would accept social and journalistic responsibilities
is to fulfill a dual role: Comfort the afflicted and
afflict the comfortable. When the press is free to
provide each service, society is stronger, which
means our freedoms are safer.
"If free and independent journalism committed
to tell the truth without fear or favor is suffocated,
the oxygen goes out of democracy."
the mysteries of a democracy and a free press is that
they can exist, often at odds, without seeking the destruction
of the other. The integrity of our system (economic,
political and cultural) depends upon our ability, and
freedom, to disagree without being disagreeable.
"Real news" reporting
is always about integrity, intelligence and courage.
Integrity provides the platform for truth seeking.
Intelligence builds the road to insightful, accurate
and thorough research. Courage is a timeless quality
and becomes all the more important when the government
or any other institution of power and control is tempted
to suggest the legitimacy of censorship.
Demand the real news -- the news you and I need to keep
our freedoms. It is important, always has been and it
always will be.
Jacobi then asked Jim, "Where has the media let
us down?" Jim mentioned that the media had gotten
caught up with a focus, in too many instances, with sensational
stories about celebrity trials, murders, sexual and child
abuses, dressing inappropriately, reporting on those
who gain fame by blasting foul language and using drugs.
Stories such as these may be interesting but not necessarily
important. Crime stories appear to have become the "news
of choice" of those who might be described as having
an ambulance chasing mentality. We need a thoughtful
press hard at work protecting freedom of speech. Jim
mentioned that constructive role models are all around
us and they need to be recognized, respected and rewarded.
It is time for news organizations to let go of the sensational
and focus on the substantive. Honoring and celebrating
stewards of culture is an important way to pass along
wholesome values and increase trust and confidence in
the system we need to sustain our society. As we know,
integrity matters, all the time.