Nepotism in the Newsroom: 5 Easy Ways to Cope in a Workplace

ImageONCE UPON A TIME, I worked in a newsroom that had a great involvement of favoritism/nepotism. One of my editors hired his girlfriend on the team to take over one of the sections of our paper. Since then, it seems like she’s had it easy; he always gave good feedback to her about her articles, while the rest of us had to deal with the harsher side of criticism. A couple of us took this to offense at the time because not only did we put our heart and soul into the writing and editing, but it was just completely obvious!

He liked helping her out a lot, too. Sometimes, he would help me out with my section, but for majority of the time, I was the one who was writing about eight articles per week. A few of my co-workers have noticed that my editor had strange priorities, and it might’ve been the reason why the newsroom had such poor management. I discussed with one of my co-workers if they’ve been noticing the favoritism and she told me that she did. In fact, it was aggravating her just as much as it was aggravating me; if not, more.

So here’s how we ended up handling the situation: we discussed it with our managing editor, who seemed quite open and understanding of our concerns. The funny thing was that she almost wanted to agree with us; she wanted to join in with our complaints but being the classy lady that she was, she couldn’t spill out any of her emotions (although her facial expressions showed it). After that, she went spoke to that editor, but did not mention our names.

And he took it to offense, instead; he and his girlfriend felt that the entire newsroom was against them because we, as a crew, felt that there was too much nepotism involved. The girlfriend even considered quitting because of it and he wanted to resolve it all with a “group meeting”.

However, I disagreed to have that happen. There doesn’t need to be a group meeting to discuss the favoritism about them two. In my opinion, here’s what a real boss should do: have a meeting with his girlfriend instead and discuss how they could avoid this kind of situation again. I mean, they’re both love birds working together, what else is there to discuss (unless they don’t have common sense)? They thought we all thought we hated her, which was not the case. It’s the favoritism we didn’t like.

I understand why he would want a group meeting to get some outside opinions but I just felt that it was going too far with it. The managing editor reported a couple of complaints about an obvious situation (that’s their problem and they know it), so why get everyone involved?

I’d like to say that they aren’t horrible people at all (although his girlfriend is quite the sour puss). They’re pretty bright and friendly people! But why cause trouble?

It scared for me for a while when I heard that they both felt offended by this. It was a yellow flag for me saying that their relationship could be POSSIBLY a lot more important than this job.

Before I make this post any longer than it should be, here’s my explanation of what the importance of this post is: Nepotism and favoritism is quite common among workplaces, and from my experience, it could be a tough situation to handle (and sometimes, people have to quit their job because of it). So here’s some advice from the things I learned in order to (calmly) cope with nepotism and favoritism in a workplace:

1. To clear things up a bit, the definition of nepotism is favoritism upon kinship, relatives or friends. Even though my examples aren’t related to each other, they act like they’re gonna get married, so what the hell.

2. Keep record of your suspections. How does the boss favor the other employee? What does the boss do for the employer that he doesn’t do for others? Is he more easy going towards the favorite?

3. Do some research, but keep it classy. You could ask one of your co-workers to see if they’re noticing any favoritism. However, don’t talk down about them. Focus on the main points of your concerns when you talk to a co-worker: “Does it seem like to you that our boss acts a lot differently towards that employer?” (Of course, you could probably phrase this much better than I can). If the co-worker begins to talk down about them, let them know that the boss being an ass, for example, is not your concern. But anyway, if the favoritism increases between the boss and the employee, you will have a co-worker or two to help explain the situation to a supervisor.

4. Trust your gut and pay attention to the past. Gut instincts are (usually) always right. And, it’s also important to focus on your boss’s behavior patterns with former employees when they’re hiring others.

5. Keep stress and motivation in check. Even if you receive the most critical criticism, continue to do your best and top-notch work. Those who do very well in their professions are expected to eat the harsh criticism anyway. 

6. Had it? Report it. Don’t do this if you’re letting your anger get in the way. Only report favoritism when you’ve noticed it’s constant, and when your other co-workers agree to take this with a supervisor. Favoritism is a stressful situation to deal with, but do it when the time is right. This is why it’s good to keep a personal journal of what you’ve witnessed (because I did).

Unfortunately, it’s difficult to deal with nepotism in a workplace. Sometimes, it’s never solved or it just has to be ignored. But if it worsens, you might want to contact a higher position of the company or an attorney, according to HR Hero.com.

When I did my research with my situation, I found out that he hired his girlfriend over another applicant who applied for the same position (and the person who applied for that position told me). Unfortunately, talking to the managing editor was the most I could do but any experience that you can get is good — even if it’s the crappiest. And, it won’t be tolerated in the future.

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