CEO’s son drives like a madman while I’m in the car, director follows up on emails in person, and more

It’s five answers to five questions. Here we go…

1. CEO’s son drives like a madman while I’m in the car

I work for a company as a business director. The CEO’s son meets me out of town for a few store visits. He pulls up in a rented Camaro, and we do our visits of the stores in the city. During our travel that day, he proceeded to race between stores at extremely high rates of speed, regularly using the paddle shifter on the steering wheel. I’m 65 and he is 30. He must have assumed that I didn’t mind the totally incomprehensible speeding actions. The problem is that he’s spoiled and the heir to take over the company soon. When I got back home, I told my immediate boss and he just blew it off. One of the companies big sponsor’s is NASCAR, and he made a joke out of it.

How would you have handled it with out kissing your job goodbye?

Ideally, in the moment while you were still in the car with him, just by saying, “Hey, could you slow down? We’re way over the speed limit.” And then, if he protested that it didn’t matter, by saying, “I’d appreciate if you’d slow down on my account anyway.”

Is your concern now that you’ll have to drive with him again in the future and he’ll do this? If so, I’d plan to address it in the moment then — or better, see if you can arrange to be the one who drives. Or is your concern that he’s out there driving around like this in general? If it’s that, I don’t think there’s much you can do about it, unfortunately — but you can at least make sure that he doesn’t do it while you’re in the car. (I wish that weren’t the answer — but I can’t think of a practical way to intervene more broadly.)

2. My director keeps following up in person about emails she just sent me

I support the executive for my team and do a lot of scheduling. I currently have 646 items in my inbox since January 1, and 90% is scheduling. I have completed all but about 10.

I have a director who will send me an email and then soon after show up at my desk about the same thing. How would you approach this situation? I’m constantly interrupted by this person and really don’t know how to approach it.

“Jane, I’ve noticed you’ll sometimes come over in person to follow up on an email after sending it. I’m really vigilant about responding to all emails quickly, but it throws off my system if you follow up in person right after sending one. Can I ask you to give me some time to see it and process it? Of course if you haven’t heard back in a reasonable amount of time, definitely follow up — but my goal is for you never to have to do that.”

3. My sources want to see — and change — my articles before I publish them

In addition to my full-time office job, I’m also a freelance journalist. Right now, I’m writing for a local magazine. Occasionally, the people that I’m writing articles about will want to see the story before it’s published. In the past, I didn’t have a problem with this, but it caused a major problem for me a few months ago. I emailed a draft of my story to someone I interviewed, and she basically rewrote the entire article to be an advertisement for her business. When I politely told her that I wouldn’t be sending her version to the editor, she then tried to back out of the story.

Now, something similar is happening with a different article. The subject wanted to see my first draft, I reluctantly sent it to her, and now she wants to change the whole thing. (I should note that I don’t have a problem with changing something if it’s inaccurate, but in this case, all of the facts were correct and she just wants the story to be more focused on her).

What should I do in these situations? I don’t feel good about saying no when someone asks to see the story I wrote about them, but I can’t continue to re-write my articles just to appease them.

In journalism — as opposed to something like corporate PR — you shouldn’t be showing article drafts to your subjects at all. Checking quotes or facts is fine if you’re not positive you’ve quoted someone correctly or that you’ve gotten a fact right, but otherwise even letting people approve quotes before you use them isn’t good journalistic practice, and you definitely shouldn’t be running the whole article by them.

If someone you’re writing about or quoting wants to see your draft, say something like, “We don’t run article drafts by people, but it’ll be published on the 23rd and I’ll send you a link when it’s live.” (Or you can check with your editor about how she wants you to handle this, but a reputable publication isn’t going to agree to let sources sign off on entire articles.)

4. Will my husband’s age raise eyebrows in our benefits department?

My husband is a lot older than me, he’s 61. I have him on my health insurance plan where I currently work, and am just wondering about the likelihood that his age raises eyebrows in our HR department/benefits office. I work in academia where there are a lot of older employees. I am just wondering if HR ever takes an age of a dependent spouse into account when making decisions about promotions, layoffs, and the like.

It’s super unlikely that anyone even notices, and even more unlikely that anyone cares (especially since 61 isn’t especially old, but this would be my answer even if he were 91), and close to no chance that it would ever impact employment decisions. Don’t give it another thought.

5. Cover letters when an application system only provides a comments box

I just applied for a job that happily involved only a single page – add resume, type your name, email and phone, and … a comments box. I entered a brief note about being happy to answer any questions they have, to fill in the details behind the brief overview in the resume.

Is this a way for the company to signal that a cover letter isn’t really necessary, or should I shoehorn a cover letter into their comments box? I’m leaning towards the former. I interpret it as a way for the company to keep their application system very lightweight for applicants to positions that have straightforward technical skill requirements, possession of which could easily be made evident in a resume. I do wonder if shoehorning in a cover letter would actually make me look old-fashioned, like I took a mimeographs and Bob Dylan approach to a modern job application system that was specifically built to allow me to avoid the time commitment of writing a position-specific cover letter.

I’d put a cover letter there, but keep it informal and on the shorter side. And all my usual advice about not summarizing your resume in your cover letter probably goes double here — it should really be something that adds to what you’re already uploading, explaining your interest in the job and why you’d excel at it. In fact, given the format, I’d possibly even skip any intro stuff and go straight into why you think you’d be great at the job.

I tend to want to stay away from “happy to answer any questions you have” language, since that’s always assumed to be true and really just ends up being filler that doesn’t add much substance.

{ 254 comments… read them below or add one }

  1. neverjaunty

    OP #1 – you definitely don’t want to work for a company that is about to be ‘taken over’ by a spoiled, irresponsible person who you know has never been held accountable for bad decisions at the business. Getting out of that bad situation will take care of two issues at once – because you absolutely do not want to, nor should you, put your life in danger for your job.

    OP #4 – nobody is likely to care. It sounds like you may be worried about people thinking snarky thoughts about ‘cradle robbing’ and things along those lines; don’t give it another moment of your time. That’s not really the kind of thing bosses pay much attention to or care about.

    Reply
    1. ginger ale for all

      The OP is 65. Looking for a new job at that age isn’t the easiest thing to do. I would try Alison’s advice about speaking up about it first. LW 1 might try saying that he/she lost a good friend in a car wreck and would prefer that the driver not bring back those memories while they are in the car. Or just go with the truth, LW is not comfortable with race car driving on public roads. LW can look up area race tracks for the idiot and suggest he drive there. I’ve heard some of those places have lessons and access to cars designed for the task.

      Reply
      1. RVA Cat

        If he’s doing this with other employees you may want to discuss with them so you could approach it as a group.

        I would definitely say that if at all possible, you should try to retire just before Joffrey takes over and presumably runs the company into the ground.

        Reply
      2. neverjaunty

        As I said in my first sentence, regardless of the driving situation, the bigger problem here is that OP’s company is about to be handed to a reckless person who is not treated with the same accountability as other employees because he’s the CEO’s son and heir apparent. Looking for a new job at 65 is indeed difficult. Looking for a new job at 65 because you got laid off by a toxic CEO, or the company is run into the ground by an incompetent leader, is even harder.

        Reply
        1. Dot Warner

          And then there’s looking for a new job after you were severely injured in a car accident caused by your recklessly-driving boss!

          OP, you and your coworkers could try discussing this with Joffrey as a group, but I doubt it’ll do any good. Run like the wind before you get hurt, or worse!

          Reply
        2. KR

          I didn’t see the OP say anywhere that the heir to the company was a bad manager though other than the fact that he’s spoiled. He might be a terrible driver but have a good eye for business.

          Reply
        3. Honeybee

          To be fair, the only thing we know about the CEO’s son is that he’s a reckless driver. There are lots of people who are bad at one thing and still good at other things. His reckless driving is a bad thing, and shouldn’t be tolerated, but that doesn’t mean that he’s toxic or incompetent or not treated with the same accountability in other areas of the business. It could simply be that the boss didn’t think this was a big deal – or did but thought the CEO wouldn’t, even if the CEO would take other things the son did as a big deal.

          Reply
    2. Ops Analyst

      Honestly, I would call the police and anonymously report an erratic, speeding driver and I wouldn’t feel guilty about it at all. Give them the license plate, the location you saw him, and what direction he was headed.

      He’s not only putting your life in danger, but everyone else on the streets as well.

      Reply
      1. Case of the Mondays

        This might not be applicable to all areas but where I live, you can now text 911. It doesn’t make it anonymous but I just wanted to put out a quick PSA. It’s especially valuable in a situation where you couldn’t safely be heard making a call. I only learned about it recently from a friend who is a police officer. It hasn’t received enough publicity. Obviously, make sure it is available where you live before relying on it.

        Reply
    3. Sans

      At first, my answer was going to be – this guy is bad news, if he takes over you’ll have bigger problems than his driving. But if the OP is 65, I agree his job options are limited. Will he be retiring soon? Is there any way he can avoid driving with the maniac in the meantime?

      Reply
    4. LQ

      #4 I agree that it sounds like a little worry. The only possible situation I can think of it coming up is if someone is looking at the two DOBs and wonders if a typo was made and comes to double check. If this happens? “Nope, that’s right, thanks for checking.” Really, no one should care.

      Reply
  2. RKB

    Duh for #1. You get out the car at the end of the day, say goodbye, note down his license plate number… And when he drives off, call the cops on a “dangerous driver” :)

    Reply
    1. The Artist Formally Known As UKAnon

      I was thinking more along the lines of “do you know any police officers who you could anonymously report the licence plate to?” but I think an anonymous report to the police is definitely the way to go.

      (Or not anonymous, OP, if you are happy to risk your job to ensure nobody gets killed – but I suspect you’ll be more comfortable with anonymous?)

      Reply
    2. NJ Anon

      You beat me to it. Although honestly, if he’s that spoiled, he may not care because daddy will take care of the ticket.

      Reply
    3. fposte

      The most the cops will do based on that is talk to him, though (otherwise you could just randomly get anybody a traffic ticket over the phone), and given that the OP has already complained about this driving, the OP will be suspected as the source.

      Reply
      1. Ops Analyst

        That depends on whether he’s speeding when they track him down. If not, yes, they will probably just talk to him since there is no other option, which certainly can’t hurt. But if he is actively speeding, which seems likely since he does it all the time, then he will get a ticket for speeding. And if he is truly driving 65 mph in low speed areas, those tickets can be hefty.

        Reply
          1. Ops Analyst

            I saw OP said she was 65. I just used that as a speed because the number was in my head. The rate of speed was described as “totally incomprehensible speeding” and compared to NASCAR. To me that indicates that the speeding is out of control.

            Reply
        1. fposte

          My point is they’re not likely to spend a ton of effort on tracking him down. If they see him when he’s speeding notably, they’ll stop him–but they would anyway.

          Reply
          1. neverjaunty

            Yes, they’re highly unlikely to give the guy a ticket based on this account, and guess who is the obvious choice for the one who reported him?

            I admit I am baffled at the idea that at age 65, the OP should put her job in danger when it won’t do anything to get this guy off the road.

            Reply
          2. Ops Analyst

            I was thinking that they would look for someone who actively driving in a dangerous manner and was just called in. If there are police currently in the area they may see him. I agree they are not going to go out of their way but that was the thinking behind it.

            Reply
            1. fposte

              They’re not likely to drive around looking for him, though; they’ll just be alert for him, and if he’s not engaging in the behavior when they see him, they’re not going to take any action.

              Reply
              1. fposte

                To expand a little, just in case–a truthful report, from what the OP describes, isn’t something that brings cops to a scene in most jurisdictions. It’s likely an infraction and not a crime, it’s a common behavior that they can’t ever completely stop, and it’s not ongoing violence or a threat thereof. It’s also a random reporter who could just be making it up for no reason, and we’re in the era where swatting is a known thing. If the OP knows where the guy will be driving in the next 15-30 minutes (like he’ll be on the interstate), that probably makes it likelier they’ll at least keep an eye out for him. But if it’s “a red Camaro is speeding somewhere within a 10-mile radius,” I doubt a phone call is going to do much.

                Reply
    4. Winter is Coming

      Here’s an idea that might work…tell him you get severely carsick when in a car that’s being driven to fast or erratically. Perhaps the implications of where that might lead may get him to slow down? I certainly wouldn’t want someone vomiting in the seat next to me! It’s kind of gross, but for that reason it just might work.

      Reply
      1. The Bimmer Guy

        That’s a good one. Still, I’ve thought about it and—maybe because I’m not a jerk—I can’t imagine someone being callous enough to continue driving recklessly after his / her passenger has asked him / her to stop. If OP1 has been silently suffering, addressing it in the moment would be a good place to start, like Alison said, rather than going behind his back to the police, his father or the rental-car agency. He might gripe and moan about what a buzzkill OP1 is, but he’ll probably slow down and it won’t escalate to OP1 losing her job…which is the ultimate goal.

        Reply
    5. KH

      Pretty sure the police actually have to see the dangerous driving to be able to do anything. He would have to be doing some very, very dangerous driving for them to take you seriously. (just speeding and using the shifter don’t meet that bar). A clear example would be someone who is clearly driving beyond the limits of themselves or the vehicle or wanton disregard for public safety – going fast on an open stretch versus unsafe passing in close quarters with other vehicles where the driver is not in full control)

      Reply
  3. Sales Geek

    > You get out the car at the end of the day…

    Note that the car is rented so that may not work. Better strategy should be to take a picture of the license plate before stepping into the car (compliment the driver for the “cool car” if he asks). Then text it to a friend who isn’t associated with the company and have them call the police in ten or fifteen minutes to complain about this car being driven “by a madman.”

    I like this better since it at least gives you some deniability on who ratted him out to the po-po. Plus if you’re lucky he’ll be pulled over while you’re in the car and provide some entertainment.

    But seriously I’ve lost a couple of coworkers to accidents while driving on the job (we do a lot of sales territory driving) and this kind of behavior can have some serious consequences.

    Finally, the company better have a firm succession plan in place after junior takes over.

    Reply
    1. Kat

      And what if he lies and tells the police that SHE was driving, should they find the car when it’s parked or through the rental agency?

      Reply
      1. Rusty Shackelford

        Why would someone who has rented a car claim that another person, who wasn’t listed on the rental agreement, was the one actually driving it?

        Reply
    2. Mike C.

      Uh, filling false reports to the police is a crime, folks. I’m not sure why in the neck you’re suggesting this Rube Goldberg style caper to lie to officials when the truth is simpler and will do just fine.

      You know, outside of saying something. You can always speak up if your life is in danger.

      Reply
      1. Matt

        Why “false reports”? OP’s description of the young man’s driving style seems to indicate that this would be a true report …

        Reply
        1. Mike C.

          It’s false because the friend claiming to be a witness didn’t actually see the “person driving like a madman” that they’re reporting. You can’t tell me about a crime that happened, then have me report it as if I was the one watching.

          Don’t lie to the police, it’s illegal and really stupid to do. Just report it yourself if you feel the driving us that dangerous (as opposed tutti someone keeping it in low gear and revving the engine a bit, for instance). Why is this contentious?

          Reply
          1. De (Germany)

            I asume from this comment that “regularly using the paddle shifter on the steering wheel” means shifting down? (I am not familiar with what a “paddle shifter” is and I drive manual cars…)

            If so, yeah, don’t focus on that. That in itself is not dangerous driving. Focus on the unsafe speed and driving style, but not how he shifts gears to speed up faster.

            Reply
            1. Apollo Warbucks

              A paddle shifter is what you call the gear changer when it’s on the steering wheel, one side has a lever to press to change up and the other side has a lever to shift down a gear. They’re only ever seen on sports cars.

              Reply
                1. Lady Bug

                  Not nearly as fun as stick though. My husband’s Jeep has one, they tried to convince me it was the same as stick. Lies, all lies.

                2. Mpls

                  Preach, Lady Bug, Preach. Finger shifting is not nearly as much fun as stomping the clutch :)

                  Was shopping for a new car (wanted a manual) and the sales person had me test drive an automatic with manual mode, claiming it was practically the same (really, it was because they had no manuals in stock). It took too much thinking. And wasn’t the same. And didn’t have the same type of gas mileage.

                3. Mike C.

                  I’ve heard that Porsche’s Doppelkupplung comes close, but really outside of an exotic or F1 car it’s really a compromise.

              1. Meg Murry

                Not just sports cars – my Honda has them, as did some of the other Honda models I test drove, and I understand some of the new Fiats have them as well. In my car’s case, even though the car is an automatic, you can use the paddle shifters to “override” the automatic system and drive it like a manual. I don’t really use them because I never drove a manual, but my husband has been driving stick ever since he got his license, so he will use them sometimes. He uses them in one of 2 situations – when he is playing around with trying to get the best gas mileage possible, just to see if he can do it, or when he is driving in a situation where he wants more control over the power, like driving in super hilly areas or when he’s trying to go up an incline that is icy, or to give him more power to accelerate more quickly on a short highway on-ramp. Basically, since shifting gears is just part of the normal driving process for him, he will do it on a car with paddle shifters as well.

                Reply
                1. AP

                  Yeah, the Honda Fit has it. I would not call the Fit a sports car (though I think it’s a great little car!).

                2. Apollo Warbucks

                  That’s cool, I hadn’t realised manufacturers like Honda and FIAT were put paddle shifter in their cars.

                3. Honeybee

                  Yeah, I purchased a car in the summer of 2014 and noticed a lot of manufacturers are offering paddle shifters as an optional add-on (for $$$) for the higher-end trims of even their entry-level models.

              2. ProfConsultant

                The Toyota Camry is available with paddle shifters. They’re not exclusively found on sports cars, in fact they’re rapidly becoming standard equipment.

                Reply
              3. Al Lo

                I have a paddle shift on my Smart car! Stick is more fun, but it’s a funny little quirk of my decidedly non-sports-car.

                Reply
              1. Mpls

                I wonder if the driver was using the paddle shifters to rev the engine higher in lower gears (to get that satisfying growl and increase power for acceleration). Agreed that not necessarily unsafe, but definitely attention grabbing driving technique (like the speeding).

                Reply
                1. Marcela

                  I don’t know. I mean, I don’t know if that’s why the CEO’s son is doing it, but DH does every time he can with his Toyota MR2 because he loves the low brrrrroooommm the car does, not because he is trying to get noticed.

                2. KH

                  Paddle shifters can (and should) also be used for downshifting as well. It’s very useful for minor changes in speed where setting off the brake lights to alert other drivers is unnecessary (such as slowing back down slightly after overtaking in the passing lane or merging into an exit-only lane).

              2. KH

                I drive fairly spiritedly. My wife doesn’t say anything until I downshift and then she’ll complain “you’re going too fast!” – even though we are going the same speed as before. She just doesn’t like to hear the engine. Loud engine = dangerous speeds? Huh?

                Reply
      2. Erin

        …pretty sure it wouldn’t be lying. OP is genuinely concerned for his life, not trying to rat on some kid who annoys him.

        That being said, speaking up first before taking that route would probably be advisable. Give him the benefit of the doubt that he’s a reasonable person – you might be surprised.

        Barring that, you’ve already tried going to your boss who blew you of so…yeah. I don’t think Sales Geek’s idea is half bad.

        Reply
    3. Actually a Dispatcher

      As far as I know, most jurisdictions don’t issue violations on the word of an initial caller… An officer has to actually see the violation in question in order to issue the ticket, etc….. and unless the officer is directly in the area and waiting, the odds they will see the vehicle are not great….. unless you want to go to Civil Court, etc, than simply calling the “Cops” doesn’t actually solve OP’s issue.

      If you truly want to call the Cops, then call the non-emergency number for the corresponding jurisdiction and them how they handle traffic complaints ahead of time. Otherwise you are likely making yourself feel better, or just wasting your time.

      Otherwise, I hope OP can find alternative transportation in the future, or as Alison suggests, offer to drive.

      Reply
    4. Laurel Gray

      This seems like pretty cowardly advice to give someone especially where their safety is concerned. The best method is to say something in the moment. A reasonable person would slow down if a passenger spoke up that they were uncomfortable. The OP did not speak up and even says he thinks the CEO’s son assumed he was ok with the speed – which most people driving would have if the passenger didn’t speak up. I almost understand the OP’s immediate boss’ reaction because it would put him in an awkward position if he did confront CEO or the son on the driving when the OP never said anything in the car. Immediate boss stepping in would probably have made things worse for the OP.

      Reply
      1. Erin

        Agreed that the best course of action is to speak up first – but you’re admitting right here that he’d have to be a reasonable person to comply, which he may not be.

        It’s a judgement call as far as getting the police involved, but if OP has A) tried speaking up and B) tried involving a higher up at the company (which he already did and got blown off) then yes, I think option C) might be to get the police involved – again, judgement call if it’s actually that serious or not, but if it is I say go for it. I don’t think it would be cowardly to have someone else call it in, either – OP would be covering his butt and ensuring his safety.

        But yes, DO try speaking up FIRST! :)

        Reply
      2. Stranger than fiction

        Yeah, that’s what I was thinking too, and I’m not a very direct person. But in that situation, I’d have no problem going “whoa dude, you’re scaring the sh#$ out of me, can you slow down?” or “whoa dude, you’re making me sick, seriously I’ll puke if you don’t ease up”. I can’t imagine he’d stick his tongue out and go “oh well too bad”.

        Reply
  4. asteramella

    #4: The Americans with Disabilities Act has a feature that protects non-disabled people from “associational” discrimination–i.e., discrimination against fully abled poeple based on their association with or relationship to a disabled person. There are multiple ADA lawsuits out there involving, e.g., an employer firing an employee whose child has a disability due to the child’s condition, or firing an employee whose spouse (covered by the employer group health plan) has just been diagnosed with an expensive chronic disease. While I don’t think age discrimination protections work the same way, I wonder if “associational” discrimination based on age would be A Legal Thing.

    In any case, if you were passed up for a promotion or laid off because your older spouse has an ADA-covered disability (not just because of his age), that would be an ADA violation.

    Reply
    1. Ashley

      I do wonder though if it does work for Title (7? I think) discrimination as well? Ie. You’re harassed for a family member being of a protected class, over 40, etc

      Reply
    2. Elysian

      Really? I’ve never heard of this – could you provide some cites? As far as I knew the ADA only covered those: 1 – with a disability; 2- with a record of a disability; and 2- those regarded as having a disability, and none of those imply any third-party right to associate with individuals with a disability. I’ve never heard of it being used in the way you suggest, but if it has I would love to learn about it!

      Reply
      1. fposte

        It’s in there–look for “ADA” and “association principle.” I’d do a link but I’m on my tablet. It’s pretty interesting–I don’t know the backstory, but my guess it was a mixture of making sure parents didn’t get discriminated against for having disabled kids and a pushback against old-fashioned eugenics-style stigma.

        Reply
    3. MsChandandlerBong

      My husband was passed up for a promotion at his last job, and his supervisor flat-out told him it’s because I have so many health problems and he should spend more time at home with me. To be clear, my husband missed exactly one day of work when I was in the hospital. It’s not like he called in every week to tend to his wife.

      Reply
  5. Chocolate Teapot

    2. I have been in similar situations in the past. The problem is the assumption I will drop everything to handle their request immediately.

    Reply
    1. AnotherHRPro

      In reading number 2, I realize I am guilty of this. It is typically because I want to provide some additional context to the email that I didn’t want to include in the note. OP, thanks for holding the mirror up for me.
      If this really bothers you, I think asking your Director why they do this could help. If I knew this bothered my team I would stop doing it immediately as that is not my intent. Obviously I am going to be more careful about doing since seeing your question. :)

      Reply
  6. Bee Eye LL

    #2 – Do we work together? Just kidding…my boss does the same thing all the time. He called me the other day about an email sent to the whole department – 1 minute after it was sent. He’s a busy body and if he’s not busy then he treats everyone else like they aren’t in the middle of something. Sometimes you just have to put your foot down or go along with it. Don’t really know what to tell you but try to give off signals that you’re in the middle of something else anytime you get interrupted.

    Reply
    1. Emmy Rae

      I work in an environment of major projects on tight deadlines for clients. My boss once walked over to my colleague’s desk and said, “Are you busy? Actually, why am I asking you that? You work for me, you have to drop what you’re working on if I tell you to.”

      Reply
      1. Bee Eye LL

        In a way, though, he is correct. This is the director of the department so if he wants to pull me off one thing and put me on another, he can do that and I pretty much have to go along with it. That’s just how it works when you’re lower down the totem pole.

        Reply
    1. Karowen

      This is my question. Using the paddle shifter just means that the guy was shifting before the automatic transmission thought he should, not that he was going crazy (doesn’t it?). I’ll admit I’m biased because I drive 5-12 over at (almost) all times, but when someone says “extremely high rates of speed” without providing more context I’m a little…iffy, I guess. Let’s face it, 70 in a 60 on a clear day is way different than 70 in a 60 in low visibility or 70 in a 35 – and I know plenty of people who think that 70 in a 60 is an extremely high rate of speed.

      I know we’re supposed to take the writer at his word, but if I were provided this exact information by someone, I’d also brush it off because there’s no concrete example of wrong doing/bad judgment.

      Reply
      1. Ask a Manager Post author

        I don’t want to make letter-writers feel that they need to prove their case like they would in a court of law when they write in here, or worry that if they don’t give all the exact right details, they’ll suffer for it in the comment section.

        She says the guy was speeding, she’s uncomfortable, and she’s wondering what to do. That’s enough to give her advice.

        Reply
        1. Mike C.

          I want to make it clear to the OP that I’m not asking because I don’t believe the OP – if you felt unsafe it was likely unsafe. It was just curiosity.

          Reply
  7. What's Your Life Worth?

    OP#1 says “How would you have handled it with out kissing your job goodbye?”

    If you knew that staying in this job would mean dying, I expect you’d quit. If you can find someone in the company who cares enough to get this kid to slow down, awesome. Otherwise, you should give the police his licence plate and look for a different job. In that order. This kid could kill himself, and you don’t want to be in the car if he does.

    Reply
    1. Mike C.

      At the very least you say something while you’re in the car. It’s really no different that yelling at someone who wants to drive drunk – sure, you’re not the one making the mistake, but your action can save you, the driver or the lives of others.

      Reply
    2. Random Lurker

      Thinking of this as a life or death situation is a little dramatic.

      Really, asking him to slow down while in the act is the only play here. It did not seem like that happened. Keeping quiet while in the car, then complaining about it to coworkers after the fact is going to be far more damaging to him than a simple polite request in the moment. Unless the problem isn’t that he went too fast, but rather, that he’s spoiled. And if that’s the case, that’s not something OP should concern himself with.

      Reply
      1. TootsNYC

        I agree, the most effective way is to say something then.

        But…

        Don’t make it scoldy, “you should…”

        Make it a friendly, personal appeal–because who can be a jerk and say no when someone nicely asks you a favor, right?

        “Could I ask you to drive more slowly? I’m finding this speed unnerving.”
        “Could you drive more slowly, for my sake? I lost a [cousin? colleague? a colleague lost a friend?] in a car accident recently, and I’m a little sensitive on that front.”

        And, “thanks for indulging me.”

        Reply
    3. The Artist Formally Known As UKAnon

      Frankly, I am ok with this man killing himself. It’s the other people he’d invariably involve, possibly including the OP, that is definitely not ok.

      Reply
      1. Mike C.

        I’m not. Sure it sounds funny to say in the internet but the driver has friends and family just like the rest of us who care and would be devastated at the loss.

        Furthermore, survivor guilt is a hell of a thing to go through. It’s something I see at work and it’s really not pretty.

        Reply
        1. The Artist Formally Known As UKAnon

          He’s old enough to know the risks he is taking. I made clear that involving other people, like the OP, his friends and family, is what is not ok about his behaviour.

          Reply
          1. Mike C.

            You made it clear that you were perfectly fine with someone dying based on little more than a few words from a perfect stranger. Him dying alone already involves everyone in his life and to claim otherwise is nuts.

            What you need to understand is that where I work, people are maimed and people die due to industrial accidents. I’m not exaggerating, I’m not making things up, I’m telling it as it is. No family member or co-worker feels any less pain because “they knew the risks”. Right or wrong, folks will still sit up at night wondering what they could have done to prevent it, what they could have said, that they were all doing the same thing and so on.

            Saying that it’s perfectly fine for this co-worker to die is an ignorant and disgusting thing to say. For the rest reading this, please speak up, even if they are old enough to know better. We all need to be reminded at some point.

            Reply
            1. The Artist Formally Known As UKAnon

              I didn’t claim otherwise. In fact, I claimed the exact opposite – that what he is doing to everybody else is not ok.

              Look, if you choose to speed then you, isolated, deserve all the consequences of that, because it is a ridiculously stupid and selfish thing to do, and you know full well that that includes death. That’s very different to an industrial scenario, because speeding is a straight up and down choice with (absent a few specific scenarios like medical emergencies) no justification whatsoever.

              What is not ok – and what I have repeatedly said is not ok – is the effect of the consequences of that on other people; other road users, the OP, friends and family, friends and family of your other victims.

              It’s up to OP to decide whether they are prepared to risk their job to try and mitigate those consequences *to everybody else involved*, but I see no obligation either to shield this man by not speaking up or worrying about whether he’ll hurt himself. He’s a grown adult and he’s chosen to take the risk. OP may decide that that is all there is to it, and they can’t afford to lose their job pursuing this further; that’s a perfectly fair choice and isn’t for us to judge. But for the sake of all the other people involved they may also decide to take the risk of further action about this.

              Reply
              1. Mike C.

                You started out by saying the following words:

                Frankly, I am ok with this man killing himself.

                Take responsibility for this statement and quit trying to pretend that dying at work is different form dying at work because the vehicle involved is different.

                Reply
                1. Victoria Nonprofit (USA)

                  Yes. The penalty for stupidity and recklessness shouldn’t be death. Sometimes it is, but that’s a tragedy, not something to gloat about.

                  When I was a teenager my parents’ car was stolen from my father’s office parking lot. It turned out that two teenagers took it for a joy ride – which we found out because it ended up on the news. They sped down an alley at 40 miles an hour, hit a car as they came to the street, and both died. They killed the family in the car as well. Awful. They deserved punishment. But death is too high a price to pay for being young and stupid.

                2. Juli G.

                  We all do stupid things. The other day, I was at a two way stop, looked to the left and then turned left. After I pulled out, I realized I had never looked right. My kids were in the car and one of them was telling me about building a snowman and I was distracted. I made a stupid, careless decision and fortunately, no one suffered any consequences. Had an accident occurred, yes it would be my fault but I certainly would hope people wouldn’t be smugly smirking at my death.

                3. The Artist Formally Known As UKAnon

                  I take full responsibility for that. Actions have consequences – if you choose to speed, you do so knowing that one of the possible consequences is that you will badly injure or kill yourself. That’s your choice. If you make it, you make it prepared to take the consequences.

                  One of my parents smoke, and I know that there is a greater chance they will die of lung cancer. The fact that they have accepted those consequences and I have little sympathy for them if they do doesn’t mean that I won’t mourn them, or love them, or miss them. But they’ve always told me that if you make a choice then you have to bear what follows.

                  There’s a difference between an odd, human mistake on the road and deliberately driving faster than the law allows, knowing of the catastrophe that could follow for all sorts of people. I’m sorry but I just have no sympathy for the consequences to the person of that decision – I have a lot of sympathy for the people that they hurt by it, including their friends and family and those of any other road users, and I think it is an awful situation for anybody to be in. I also have a lot of sympathy for people who make a momentary mistake and have to live with the consequences.

                  I’m not saying this to be smug, or self-righteousness, and I apologise if it came over that way. I am just saying that people who choose to speed know what they might do, and if they make that choice then I have no sympathy for the consequences *they* feel for *their* deliberate actions. As it seems people are misunderstanding or want to debate other areas, I am going to leave it at that.

              2. Minion

                I’m curious – if your brother, father, son, cousin, best friend – anyone at all that’s close to you that you love, were to die in an accident that they caused, would you also be okay with that? And, how would it feel to you if someone were to say to you, “Well, he knew the risks and consequences, so I’m okay with him dying.”
                People are so flippant with other people’s lives when it doesn’t affect them, personally. It’s so easy to say things like that when talking about a stranger that you can paint as the devil in your mind, but what you’re missing is that every person makes stupid decisions sometimes that could, potentially, cause terrible consequences. That one second you’re distracted by changing the radio station in the car could cause your death as well as the death of innocent bystanders. Good, decent, human beings make stupid decisions with dire consequences all the time.
                You’re thinking of this guy as evilly rubbing his hands together and laughing as he gets in the car and shouts, “I’m going to drive like the madman that I am and, hopefully, I’ll kill a few people along the way because I couldn’t care less about human life!” No, he’s immature and stupid and probably thinking, “I’ll bet this thing will fly! I wonder just how fast it is?” But he doesn’t deserve to die for his stupidity, immaturity and short-sightedness.
                That’s why we don’t execute drunk drivers, or those who cause accidents through negligence.

                Reply
            2. FowlTemptress

              OP doesn’t “need” to do anything. The hectoring tone of this comment is just too much. You are not the boss here, nor are you a moderator.

              Reply
              1. Duncan

                I took what TAFKAUKANON is saying as simply saying if a person wants to take risks, that is on him or her, but it’s hard for others to suffer the consequences of those choices. Nobody is saying anyone careless or that has an accident “deserved it,” yet I think that’s how folks are taking the original statement for some reason. In this case, the risk is unnecessary; it’s not like his job is racing. And while many of us do stake calculated risks every day (including flying, driving, skiing, rock climbing, whatever,) his driving sounds reckless and endangers others. Again, doesn’t mean that he deserves to die, but it also doesn’t mean that I (a stranger who has no influence on the situation) need to care if he does in the same way I would care to hear of a death under different circumstances.

                Reply
              2. Ask a Manager Post author

                I’m not in any way okay with people commenting here that others need to die, so I’m glad others addressed it before I saw it. That said, it’s been addressed and now it’s derailing the conversation, so let’s move on.

                Reply
      2. Viktoria

        Wow, harsh! We don’t even know how fast he was going. I regularly drive 70 mph in a 60 zone to and from work… Along with 80% of the other drivers on the road. The other 20% are zooming past me on the left. Do I deserve to die for that, then? It’s definitely true that some people are uncomfortable with any amount of speeding and might regard it as unacceptably dangerous driving. If one of those people were in the car with me and asked me to slow down of course I would. But if they didn’t speak up i’d have no way to know.

        Now, if I were going 70 in a 35? Or even 35 in a school zone (20)? That would be a different story. That is what *I* would consider to be dangerously reckless speeding. Without more details, it’s hard to know what scenario OP was encountering, but either way the most important takeaway is that the OP can and should speak up about their individual comfort level.

        But yeah, seeing someone say that anyone who drives over the speed limit deserves to die is a bit shocking! Is speeding regarded differently in the UK?

        Reply
      3. neverjaunty

        Wow. So you’d be OK if the police pulled him over and summarily executed him for speeding? After all, he was putting himself and others in danger, so why not a bullet in the head rather than wait for him to wrap himself around a tree and take someone with him?

        Mike C. is right. Maybe quit digging?

        Reply
      4. AMG

        I understand. My former SIL drives drunk all the time and treats her kids in an abusive manner. She only keeps custody of them for the child support. She already caused one drunk driving accident that put her mother in a wheelchair for life, gave her daughter a brain injury, and nearly killed all of them (her son was in the car too). Despite police intervention, multiple calls from the school, doctors, and neighbors to social services about her, my BIL is still trying to get custody of his kids to protect them.

        I am okay with her killing herself in a car wreck. The world will be a better, safer place without her. I (literally) pray that she’s the only one she hurts in her next drunk driving accident. And I’m not sorry.

        Reply
        1. What's Your Life Worth?

          AMG, Alison JUST said “I’m not in any way okay with people commenting here that others need to die.”

          Reply
    4. fposte

      But are we going to do the same for every friend who’s talked or texted on the phone in the car? Driving poorly isn’t an automatic death sentence, and the fact that the OP doesn’t like this guy and we’re on her side doesn’t make him more dangerous.

      Reply
    5. Outlook Power User

      I think the only reasonable response, after voicing our concern to no avail, would be to ask them to pull over so you can exit the car and take a taxi or just get out at the next light and call a cab. Submit the expense to work and claim you felt unsafe driving with this person and will not drive with them again.

      Reply
  8. Ultraviolet

    OP1 – I agree with Alison that it would have been fine to just ask him to slow down. If you were really worried the guy would argue with you, you could also tell him you get carsick. Or if it makes sense for your role, you could maybe joke about being obsessive about employees following the rental policy and traffic law to the letter while traveling for business. (I mean, you could say that anyway, but the joke gets weaker the farther from your job that kind of thing is.) To reiterate, just telling him you’d prefer to go slower is 100% okay. But if you’d rather soften that message with a joke or white lie about motion sickness, I don’t think that’s a terrible moral compromise.

    Reply
    1. Camellia

      Carsick! Yes! If you can manage to puke on him I think that would slow him down.

      BTW, I suffer from an extreme version of motion sickness and have to be firm about some things when I ride with other people, so I can sympathize.

      Reply
      1. MAB

        I get motion sick in cars, trains, boats, and sometimes driving in a car on a straight road at normal speeds. I, for the most part, drive everywhere.

        Reply
  9. Sandy

    I’m curious about what the response would be to #2 if the person *weren’t* so good about clearing out their inbox.

    My boss has, no joke, over 1500 (!) unread emails in her inbox. She has to keep asking the IT guy to increase her mailbox limits.

    I often have to send an email with say, three options for an event,mother physically walk over to her office and say “hey, I just sent you an email with the options for the teapot conference” or it will get drowned in a sea of unread emails, and she’ll ask me to resend the email she missed the first time two weeks later.

    Reply
    1. Rebecca

      Yes! My manager has a sea of unread emails in an incomprehensible mess that she calls an inbox. I always call her on the phone or send an IM when I need her to actually look at something.

      Reply
      1. Persephone

        Pretty sure my boss has 5 times that. My main inbox has no unread emails, but I do have folders with large numbers of unread emails. One is 2753, one is 2237, and the other is 8104. I’m in groups that get copied on a lot of things, and rules send these emails directly to these folders so I know I don’t need to look at them. Once in a while (2-3 times a week) I need access to a couple of those emails when I need information or am asked to help support a backlogged team.

        Reply
      2. Jinx

        A team member who was hired at the same time with me had 140 unread emails about a year in (he assumed he was left out of a meeting because he didn’t see the invite, which I found buried in his inbox). 1500 is totally believable for manager-level around here.

        Reply
      3. Chameleon

        I wonder if the email system is set up so you can preview messages without “reading” them. My phone, for example, will show the first few lines of an email in the notification, so I see the whole thing for 60% of the emails I get. If I wasn’t anal about keeping my inbox clean, I could accumulate a whole lot of unread emails without missing anything important.

        Reply
    2. Bowserkitty

      I got a glimpse of my new boss’s screen and he has well over 7000 unreads. I was floored.

      A few days later I decided that was the kick in the pants I needed to clear out my personal inbox, which had had around 100 unreads since 2008.

      Reply
    3. toa

      Why even bother with the email though? My boss is sometimes like this. If I have something I need her to review or make a decision on, I print it and go over it with her in person. It’s not ideal, because if she’s out of the office then I just have to wait, but if she’s really not going to answer the email then I just won’t send one.

      Reply
      1. TootsNYC

        well, sometimes they will open the email if you point it to them, and sometimes you want them to “reply to all,” and other people need the detail.

        So you walk over to make sure it gets opened and acted on with the urgency it deserves. But that shouldn’t be every email you send someone.

        Reply
  10. Merry and Bright

    #2 Reminds me if OldManager. He was a nice guy to work for but one of his quirks was to send me an email “…xyz etc…
    I’ll drop by later to discuss” then seconds later be at my desk. Well, that was technically later but a bit awkward. I just used to say that I was just finishing reading it and he would wait a moment. There is later…and later.

    Reply
  11. Merry and Bright

    #5 I have come across these comment boxes too. Mostly I have done what Alison suggests. But two or three times I have used one with a 100 character limit (yep, less than a Tweet) which is something of a challenge.

    Reply
    1. AnotherHRPro

      For really short character limit boxes I wouldn’t bother adding anything as I can’t image what you could say that would add much value.

      Reply
  12. Merry and Bright

    #1 I feel for the OP here. I have been in some similar situations over the years (though not SonOfBoss) and my confidence and sense about speaking up tend to plummet. I feel a bit cowed and worry the driver will react badly while I am at his/her mercy. Crazy perhaps but I did once get a taxi driver turn nasty when I challenged him when he asked me to read a sign for him because he had left his glasses in the cab office.

    Reply
    1. I'm a Little Teapot

      OMG. As a person who wears glasses I am cringing in horror at the idea of driving without them. Also, I am mystified at how it’s possible to forget them in the first place. I mean, I need them to see decently and only take them off to shower and sleep!

      Reply
      1. Kylynara

        Possibly his eyesight isn’t that bad. My husband is always losing his glasses around the house because his eyesight isn’t too bad so he takes them off and goes about his business and doesn’t even realize he’s not wearing them for a couple hours. My vision is awful. Facial features are dark spots on a lighter blur from across a dinner table. I take mine off to read, but I can’t get out of the room without realizing I’m not wearing them.

        Reply
        1. Anna

          My husband uses glasses in a limited way. However, if he were a cab driver I would recommend he not mention he needs them to a passenger when he clearly doesn’t have them.

          Reply
      2. UK Nerd

        I can see just fine for all other purposes, but have to wear glasses to drive. If I didn’t keep them in the car, I’d be forgetting them all the time.

        Reply
      3. Al Lo

        Heh. I was the same way before I got LASIK. There was literally no way that I could ever forget contacts or glasses — with a -7.5 prescription, I couldn’t see details 3 feet away, let alone ever get out of the house without them!

        Reply
  13. Merry and Bright

    Also on no.1, if SonOfBoss smashes the car up (assuming no major injury or loss of life) he might Boss might be less cavalier when the firm has to deal with rental firm. I used to book the rental cars at OldJob and this is likely to cost the firm big time.

    Reply
  14. techfool

    Re, 2
    As soon as you get the email, reply with “Got it” or “I’ll get back to you later today” or whatever. Sometimes they just want to know you saw it.

    Reply
  15. IisAwriter

    #3 – Never show your drafts to anyone outside your editorial team. On a smaller scale, the person may not agree with you/your angle and want to rewrite, as you’re now finding out. On a much larger scale, it calls into question your journalistic integrity and credibility. As a journalist your job is to report, not send to press “tainted” articles. I would believe if your editor found out this is part of your practice, they would be none to pleased. As Alison said, simply explain when the article will pub and thank them again for their time.

    Reply
    1. OP #3

      Actually, my editor agreed to let a source see my draft the last time someone asked (I probably should have mentioned that in my original letter). I guess that I should try talking to her about this.

      Reply
      1. Sassy AAE

        Hi! Yeah, this is something you need some guidance from your manager on. I’m coming from the other side of it, as a PR person. Our clients are very “manufactury,” so we end up pitching a lot of trade and industry publications. For some publications, letting us see a draft (or even letting us write our own copy and having it run as a byline) is really normal. For others there are strict editorial guidelines. I would ask and say, “Several sources have wanted to see a draft of the article. A lot of the time they propose some significant edits. How do you want me to handle that?”

        This is kind of a quirk of trade publication, and would be out of touch for pretty much anywhere else.

        Reply
        1. SherryD

          Yeah, there’s nothing wrong with trade magazines running company-produced content in editorial space (I’m talking copy-and-paste press releases, not advertorials). But it should be identified as “supplied,” not a reporter’s byline.

          Reply
        2. AnonInSC

          Yes, I’ve had approval for things that other organizations are writing at times, but with a reporter I’ve never had any approval ability. Sometimes I’ve been able to fact check or clarify something – but not change the story, perspective, content or quotes.

          Reply
          1. AnonInSC

            And I should add that I don’t expect to. Press releases are totally different – but once they go out, reporters can use them and add their own reporting to the context.

            Reply
      2. Jenna

        Wow, veteran journalist here and I’ve never heard of a writer granting a prior review request (showing sources articles before they were published). Granted, I was in newspapers, which have higher standards of ethics than certain types of magazines. But still, you might be able to get out of these situations by offering to read back quotes to the sources over the phone rather than showing the draft. Definitely tell your editor what’s been happening and refer these sources to her rather than trying to handle it on your own — she’s the one in charge.

        Reply
        1. OP #3

          I have prior experience in newspapers too, which is why this situation makes me so uncomfortable (my editor has a background in marketing, not journalism). I like your idea about reading quotes over the phone instead; I’ll have to try that.

          Reply
      3. Ad Astra

        This is a key detail, since many (mosty?) editors don’t allow sources to see stories before they’re published. Talking to her is certainly a good idea. In general, I’m fine with showing sources all of the quotes I’m using from them, which gives them a chance to correct something if it was transcribed wrong or if they later realized something they said was incorrect. Even then, you’ll be opening yourself up to a potential back-and-forth with a source who wants to change the story.

        And the more controversial the topic, the less inclined I am to let sources see stories or even quotes ahead of time. A journalist’s job isn’t to make sources look good (or bad), it’s to tell the truth.

        Reply
    2. Cupcake

      There is a real difference when you’re writing for something like a newspaper and something like a local magazine, depending on the subject matter of the magazine. I could see an editor at a local magazine being okay with a source seeing a draft. But if you’re feeling pressured by sources to see drafts, you should definitely run all those requests past your editor and let the editor make the final decision so it isn’t on you, OP.

      Reply
    3. Green

      Wait a minute; she’s not writing for a newspaper. She’s writing for a local magazine. I disagree with AAM’s advice here: she needs to consider the tone and goal of the magazine. Some are hard-hitting local magazines/weekly newspapers that tackle tough issues. Others are largely positive “booster magazines” or “culture magazines” for local businesses and local development. They’re largely funded by ads. This is a completely different form of journalism, and depending on the goals of the editor and the publisher, it might be entirely appropriate and even expected to allow a “source” or “subject” (i.e., local business owner) to review the piece prior to approval. Major changes are still usually out, but alienating the local business community is not going to work for these mags.

      Reply
      1. Macedon

        If the magazine is presenting its copy as independent, it can’t run this – at the very least, not without a disclaimer. The fact that it’s local doesn’t matter. It’s a question of standards and integrity. You would not expect a police officer to look the other way for good ol’ Sam when he’s driving drunk just because they’re in a 5,000-people village.

        If people don’t trust your copy, they’re not going to buy the ad-littered issues of the most positive magazine, whether a hard-hitter, nan’s knitting guide or the average B2B.

        Reply
        1. Cupcake

          I’m thinking specifically of a couple magazines my old town used to do– a business magazine and a bridal magazine. These were largely just promotions for businesses and features on business owners or couples in the case of the bridal magazine. I’m pretty sure they stayed in business because a.) the business people and their friends/family bought beaucoup copies and b.) a lot of future brides will buy anything with wedding dresses in it.

          I could absolutely see drafts being given to some of the subjects featured in these magazines.

          Reply
            1. AnonInSC

              Yes – there are some local magazines that I assume the entire content is approved/part of a PR plan. That is a different situation.

              Reply
        2. Green

          Most of these types of local magazines aren’t purchased. They’re passed out for free to provide exposure to local businesses and community events. I think people get exactly what they’re expecting from those magazines although some are better than others. Are they slightly-more-independent advertorials? Yes. Is that problematic in context? No. Would it be problematic in a different context? Quite possibly.

          (I’m married to a more traditional journalist, and we’ve had friends who started on news side and switched to these types of publications and sometimes found the transition difficult. Others adapt pretty easily, but an honest conversation with the editor and publisher about the goals of the publication is probably key to getting the right idea here.)

          Reply
        3. Honeybee

          Those aren’t really comparable situations – a local magazine’s coverage of a small business owner isn’t the same thing as a man endangering other people’s lives. Some local magazines are free and rely completely on ad support. I lived in a small town with a free magazine and the articles were generally positive to neutral on pretty much anything besides local government or news about crimes.

          Reply
      2. Pwyll

        To be fair, pretty much all traditional media is funded by ads. That usually doesn’t affect the editorial team, and most publications have some kind of firewall up between ad sales and editorial staff. I do agree, though, that this is really a call the editor should be making and not the OP.

        Reply
      3. Elsajeni

        Yes, this is what I was thinking, too. There’s a local magazine that’s distributed in my neighborhood that’s 100% the “booster” model, and I would be shocked to hear that the subjects of their profiles didn’t get to review the pieces. The types of changes the OP is describing, like a businessperson wanting to make the article basically a long-form ad for the business, are changes toward what I’d expect to see in that magazine. On the other hand, since the OP’s been writing for this magazine for at least a few months and this hasn’t happened with every article, I’m guessing she’s turned in some less-boostery pieces and hasn’t had any objections from the editor, so maybe that isn’t the expectation after all. I’d still talk to the editor about the issue, just to be sure, but I think AAM’s advice is probably on the right side.

        Reply
    4. Florida

      Once I had a freelance writer send me a draft of an article that featured me. (She offered. I never even thought about requesting it.) She said two things in her email that influenced my response. First, she told that she almost never let people read drafts. She was only doing this because there were some complicated things happening am with the situations and wanted to be sure she captured it accurately. Second, she made it clear that she was only interested in comments about accuracy and did not want any comments on writing style. Another thing you could do is give them a tight deadline, “I wanted you to get a chance to see it, but I need to turn it in by 2:00.” (When it is currently 1:30.)

      I’m not saying you need to or should send your drafts to the source. I’m just saying that for magazine feature articles, I’ve had writers send me a draft, and they made it clear that I should only offer comments on the accuracy and nothing else.

      Reply
      1. sunny-dee

        When I was a reporter, I actually sat down once and let someone walk through a story I wrote, but I was writing on recent stats on suicide in the county and the person reviewing it was the mother of a son who had recently committed suicide. I wanted to make sure that I handled her and her son with appropriate sensitivity. It was limited to those quotes and parts of the story, though.

        Reply
        1. Chinook

          Man, I wish our local reporter would double check facts. Sh interviewed me for a sort of puff piece last fall and published it last week with both my name spelled wrong and the name of the international organization we are part of replaced with the national one. Then again, DH had dealt with her with hi job a it sounds like such factual errors are not rare.

          Reply
    5. Young reporter

      Newspaper reporter here – if sources request review of things or ask to see articles, I usually explain to them that we don’t do that and ask if they have any concerns about the story. 90% of the time, they’ll respond with something specific (like, “I want to make sure you’re using this number in the context it was intended”) and I can deal with that or talk it over without ever sending them anything to review.

      I’ve also found that requests to review articles prior to publication generally have much more to do with how nervous/green the source is than the actual content of the story.

      Reply
  16. Quirk

    #5:
    Careful. You say “technical skill requirements” – it’s not a tech job, is it? In my (UK) experience, cover letters are uncommon in software jobs, and when hiring I’ve noted they correlate strongly with bad candidates.

    I suspect that this is a function of the level of demand: almost anybody worth hiring has multiple options, and if they apply directly rather than being pulled in by a recruiter, as the hiring manager, you’re overjoyed. Most of the people who apply directly are not worth hiring, and a cover letter generally makes excuses for an inadequate CV. If the CV doesn’t look inadequate at first glance, the fact they felt the need to write a cover letter is mildly troubling and an indication to look deeper.

    You’re probably best placed to judge whether this describes your industry locally.

    Reply
    1. Kyrielle

      Huh. In my (US) experience, cover letters for tech jobs are very effective. Not required. But very effective. (They were for me, and have been for a couple other people I’ve known.)

      Sometimes they’re covering deficiencies and sometimes they aren’t. In my case they were addressing the fact that I was making a major shift in tech and industry, and making it clear that I knew that, wanted it, and that I was prepared for the learning curve. I know it made a positive impact because several people commented on my cover letter, positively, while interviewing me.

      Reply
      1. Quirk

        I think explaining a big change is a forgivable reason for a cover letter. I did interview an academic with a lot of experience in our area of interest who wanted to join the commercial world, and some explanation was definitely needed there as academic CVs take a lot of reading.

        However, my general experience has been that cover letters that enthuse about how much the candidate wants to work for us or what they can do for us are a precursor to a CV that’s missing most of the things I’m looking for.

        Reply
      1. Quirk

        Well, I note my friend getting hired in Boston had a very similar recruiter-driven approach to that in the UK, and approaches that have been made to me from e.g. Amazon Seattle are very much about “going through their process” with little room for cover letters. So, sure, some of it’s probably UK, but I do think some of this is the industry as well.

        Reply
      2. Quirk

        To clarify my thinking a little bit:

        Most software hiring is done through recruiters – either third party, or, in the case of large organisations, internal teams. Recruiters don’t deal in cover letters. A good CV/resume is expected to speak for itself. This is, to the best of my knowledge, at least as true of the US as the UK.

        I guess my perspective is that pretty much every cover letter I saw was attached to a CV I didn’t want, and almost nobody I was interested in talking to had a cover letter, and pretty much everyone I knew working in the field from two years of experience on is under a constant barrage of recruiter interest and not writing any cover letters. The people I wanted to talk to could’ve folded their CVs into paper planes and thrown them through the window and I’d have called them back. Over time this bred a certain disrespect for cover letters and an appreciation for a well-presented CV: the former add an extra page of text that normally has very little impact on the interview/no interview decision.

        I feel that automated application systems without space for cover letters are attempts to cut down on the high-noise-to-signal nature of unsolicited applications.

        Reply
        1. Honeybee

          It’s different at different companies. I’ve applied to some tech companies in the U.S. that didn’t even have a place you could attach a cover letter, and I’ve applied to some that wouldn’t consider your application without one.

          I also don’t see how not requiring a cover letter would cut down on unsolicited applications. If anything, I would think it would raise it – because that makes it easier to apply. All I have to do is attach my resume and go.

          Reply
    2. Ife

      This is very different than the advice I’ve received and the experiences I’ve had as a programmer (US). I wonder if other US-ers can comment on this? I would love to never write another cover letter again! :)

      Reply
      1. Ask a Manager Post author

        It varies by employer and by hiring manager, but lots of people who hire for tech jobs here have said they care about them. Others have said they don’t. From the outside, you can’t know which you’re dealing with, but since a good cover letter is much more likely to help than hurt you, I’d err on the side of continuing writing them.

        Reply
      2. Honeybee

        I work in tech too, and I agree with AAM. It varies. Some companies and teams don’t care about them and others are more traditional and want them. The most frustrating are the companies who say that they don’t require them but have a space to include them, but also have a reputation for being a little bit quirky/nontraditional (Google, I’m looking at you). When applying for those companies I erred on the side of including at least a short cover letter and it didn’t seem to hurt me in terms of getting contacted for interviews.

        Also, it is true that some jobs at some tech companies operate through recruiters, but they don’t do so exclusively. I got more hits than I expected by just applying through the website. In at least three cases the reason an internal recruiter even knew to contact me was because I had put my resume into the system by applying for an opening on the website.

        Reply
  17. Rebecca

    #2 My manager does this. It doesn’t matter what I’m working on, she will send me something, march into my office and announce “I just sent you an email”. Before I have a chance to respond, she starts talking about it, and wants me to address it immediately. I’ve tried to explain that constantly doing this is distracting, and holds up my actual work, but she refuses to stop. I don’t know if she won’t use or isn’t aware of the “right click and find related” feature, but she could save herself and us a lot of time if she’d just use it. 99% of these priority issues, in her mind, are messages she was copied on weeks ago, and she wants to know if we “did them”. Um, you’d see that if you’d just find the last message in the list where it says “DONE” without bothering us endlessly! So frustrating. (and yes I’ve pointed out the find feature, and she waves it off, saying it’s easier if she just asks)

    Reply
    1. Kim

      Thank you so much for your response, it’s nice to know its not just me. It’s soooo frustrating and annoying. When I get an email and it’s an action. I always write back, got it, I’m on it, etc. So for her to come to my desk after sending the email. Makes no sense and she’s NOT my manager. I’ve been in this position six months and I’m looking for a new job. There are other issues and it’s just not worth it.

      Reply
      1. Newbie

        I agree with Alison’s response, but it might be helpful to include some specific time frames regarding when the person should normally expect a response/action to email messages. To just tell her to check back if she hasn’t heard from you in a reasonable time frame leaves “reasonable” open to interpretation and may not solve the issue. Maybe let her know she should normally expect to hear back in X hours or Y days to provide some clear guidelines.

        Also, as she isn’t your supervisor, consider if the interruptions caused by the person coming to your desk is creating productivity issues for you. If providing specific time frames don’t work and the interruptions are costing you productivity, it could be worth addressing to your supervisor: “I’ve asked Sally to allow 24 hours for responses to non-urgent emails, but she continually follows-up to emails in person, which is keeping me from meeting X deadline (or whatever the work impact is). Do you have suggestions for how these interruptions can be minimized to allow me to keep up with my other tasks?”

        Reply
  18. Macedon

    #3. I’m not going to lie to you: if you were my freelancer and I learned you’d been doing this, I’d fire you. No mitigating circumstances, no debate. You can fact-check, you can sometimes extend a source the courtesy of reading them back their quote so they can superficially correct some of their wording. You can’t give them the full piece. You are not writing an advertorial. If the story has been influenced in its editorial direction by its subject, you are integrity-bound to disclose this to your readers and acknowledge your article as a partisan piece.

    If this seems too dramatic: it isn’t. Your integrity and your contact book are your prime assets in this profession, and if you check any big league newspaper, the first and worst thing commenters will claim is that the journalist of whatever article they dislike is taking money from the other side. The only thing that keeps these publications from folding is the fact that they can ultimately defend against accusations of bias. At this point in time, you’d be unable to do the same, and you’re not at even their level, where the brand rep can offer you protection.

    If your sources ask to see the piece pre-publication, tell them you can only read them back their quotes (if your editor allows even that much). If they threaten to withdraw from the piece, remind them that they have previously given you their quotes unconditionally – they’re on the record. Burn the bridge, use the quote. At this point, with your current story – I would tell the editor you are not in a position to write this article and scrap the draft. I wouldn’t even reuse the material the source has given you to write a new draft: your relationship with her is compromised. Ask your editor to write on another topic.

    Reply
    1. Worker Bee (Germany)

      OP3 mentioned later that the editor did give one of her text to the source in the first place.
      I’d still recommend Alisons script but also to tell the editor how she will handle these request to be in line with her.

      Reply
    2. Ani

      OP said in a comment above that the editor is the one who agreed to let a source see OP’s draft the last time someone asked.

      Reply
      1. Macedon

        Yes, just saw that ( thanks for mentioning it, mind). This covers OP’s back relative to acting by the publication rules, but this remains very, very sketchy ground for a journalist. I stand by my previous suggestion to drop the current story, because the relationship is compromised.

        I realise this risks coming off as very self-righteous and impractical, in a “sure, that’s what you’d do in an ideal world, where you don’t have a deadline and an editor breathing down your neck” – but it’s one of the (few) things we stick to very closely in this profession.

        Reply
        1. Ad Astra

          Yes, honestly, now that I know the editor has approved it, I feel like that editor could use a talking to about journalistic ethics. The only exception I can think of is if this publication really is meant to be a PR vehicle. There’s absolutely some give-and-take when you’re dealing with sources, because you can’t do your job without good relationships. And that’s why j-school ethics courses aim to teach people how to navigate that give-and-take. Ultimately, your responsibility is still to the public.

          Reply
          1. Green

            This touches on my comments above — I think it’s likely meant to be a positive magazine quasi PR vehicle. Conventions there are very different from newsrooms.

            Reply
    3. An editor

      OP3 says she writes for a local magazine, not a newspaper. As someone who has worked at a paper and now is an editor of a local magazine, I can say the rules are different for each field. Most local magazines are not Newsweek. They’re ad-driven, niche publications that want to play nice with their sources — we require all our freelance writers to run their stories past their sources, NOT for rewriting but so that we can be sure everything’s accurate and they can raise any red flags they see. Editors usually know what’s up and recognize when something was rewritten by the source (or, more often, are already in the loop and have seen the different drafts). Ultimately the editors decide what’s published and let the ad people handle the advertising. OP should talk to their editor.

      Reply
      1. Macedon

        I’m sorry, I still disagree. I’ve done local, nationals and wires, reporting and editorial – if you let sources read the piece before it hits print, you’re crossing a line for me. If accuracy is a problem, you can fact-check: pick up the phone, read back your factual notes. If you’re dealing with something sensitive, read back a quote. But that should be it.

        There’s playing nice with your sources by giving them some information in return, featuring a relevant comment from them in a larger piece, affording them extra privacy and consideration during sensitive or crisis periods. But that’s it. You don’t become the broadcast device of your sources. You have to find a way to balance your financial obligations without compromising your integrity.

        That said, I’m with you that the ultimate call belongs with OP’s editor. It seems in this particular case, the editor might be significantly more flexible with standards that I’d personally think advisable, but, then again, I don’t run their newsroom.

        Reply
        1. ebspoony

          Macedon is right about this. With 17 years in journalism–and not as a journalist–I can’t imagine ANY publication I would work for, and none that I have, which would allow this. J-School ethics 101 teaches this. You never, ever, ever give a source this power. This is the line between journalism and PR. Wanna make nice with your advertisers? Publish a catalog with fancy stories, like Restoration Hardware does. This is important and will mark the difference between getting work or not. All editors understand that writers have to take PR gigs, but you have to say as much about the work. If you’re publishing something and calling it journalism, you better as hell be sure it’s journalism, and not PR. Sorry, there’s no gray on this issue! It’s an integrity question!

          Reply
          1. An editor

            OP didn’t clarify what type of publication they’re writing for. It’s of course unethical to run stories past sources in a *newsroom*. Most local magazines aren’t newsrooms. They’re not running wires and doing investigative reporting, and they’re not claiming to. They’re a different breed of publications, which is my point.

            Reply
          2. Green

            You might not work for these types of publications, but they still exist and most of the readers are getting exactly what they expect from them.

            Reply
    4. Green

      I get the feeling that this is a business-friendly booster mag about cool things to do in the city, not an expose on police corruption. If so, this isn’t the way to handle this situation.

      Reply
      1. Macedon

        Yeah, my way of dealing with it stopped the moment OP said the editor was on board with this. Can’t fault OP if the problem is upstairs.

        Reply
      2. OP #3

        You are correct; it’s a local publication for a small town.

        Before I started this job, I wrote exclusively for newspapers, and I would have never even thought about showing drafts to sources. My editor has a background in marketing, though.

        Reply
  19. NewCommenterfromDaBronx

    OP#1-I am also 65. If this had happened to me, I would have addressed it in the moment, as in “slow down, please! You are scaring me, driving so fast!” If he made light of that, I would add, “nope, not kidding. I am not comfortable with speeds like that. Thanks!” If he continued, I would most likely say at our next stop that I would find an alternative way to get back to the office if possible. And I would let my boss know that in future I would drive myself around on business calls.

    Reply
    1. Ann

      Yes, this. In fact, I might so far as to rent my own car. Then when I turn in the expense for reimbursement and it’s questioned, it would give me the opportunity to tell my boss why – that I felt my life was in danger riding in the same car with the CEO’s son.

      Reply
  20. Liane

    My writing, on a gaming blog, is not quite journalism, but the only time anyone an article is about sees it ahead is when I am doing an interview via email with a game book developer. Due to the non-disclosure agreements, both questions and answers go to the gaming company to make sure they comply. For example, nothing about future projects or how a rule worked differently in the beta.

    For the record, these aren’t advertorials and Managing Editor, my direct boss, knows and approves. And no one asks me to rewrite.

    Reply
  21. Kim

    Hi Ask A Manager,

    I just would like to thank you so much for creating such an incredible website. It’s really hard to managing workplace issues in the workplace with a manager or someone at a higher level then you. We have no outlet! They tell you to go to HR but I’m seeing that HR really doesn’t help. I have so many issues but all you can do is find another job. Again, thank you so much for responding to my question and I will use your answer in hopes to resolve this issue. All the best, Kim

    Reply
  22. Roscoe

    #1 My answer is a bit different than others. I’d simply say see if you can not ride with him instead of all this other nonsense. Is there a way you could arrange to just meet him at the other places instead of riding in a car with him? I kind of feel that, if you choose to ride with someone, then you kind of deal with their driving. Also, how much faster is he really going? Not trying to sound like a jerk here, but I know from my own experience driving with my grandparents that their concept of “extremely high rates of speed” are a bit exaggerated. I mean, is it dangerous or just more than your liking? Going like 60 mph between 2 stop signs is dangerous. Hitting 80 on a highway, while fast, depending on conditions and amount of traffic, I wouldn’t necessarily call dangerous. To me, these actual differences matter more than the vague things written in the letter.

    But either way, my suggestion would be to simply try to not ride with him in the future. Maybe have a “lunch appointment” or something where you’d have to drive yourself.

    Reply
    1. Meg Murry

      I agree with
      1) don’t drive with him if possible
      2) take in mind that riding in a low riding car feels much faster than some smaller vehicles, even at the same speed. I’m not sure what it is, but I have definitely felt freaked out about the speed when I was the passenger in a smaller car and then looked at the speedometer and realized we were actually just at the speed limit, and vice versa – borrowed my mothers SUV and kept easily going 15 mph over the speed limit if I wasn’t paying close attention because it just didn’t feel that fast (and the reverse – driving 25 mph felt like I was crawling). Being in an unfamiliar city on unfamiliar roads could also make OP feel like he was driving more dangerously than he actually was.

      However, even if he was speeding or changing lanes frequently or tailgating or otherwise just driving in a way that made OP uncomfortable I think she could at least say “hey, slow down, we’re not in a hurry” and then plan to just drive herself if there is another trip in the future.

      But yes, I also agree with other posters that the fact that he is poised to take over the company soon is actually a much bigger worry.

      Reply
  23. Noah

    #1 – Say something while your in the car, refuse to get in the car next time, or mind your own business. If I had a Camaro as a rental car I would probably be accelerating quickly, use the paddle shifters, and even speed a bit. We’ve all got different comfort levels, if your uncomfortable during the drive or driving with him in the future then say so, but you shouldn’t worry about his driving style when you’re not going to be in the car with him.

    I tend to speed. If the speed limit is 65, I’m in the left lane going 80-90 depending on how traffic is moving. I don’t notice it because that’s how I drive 99% of the time. If someone riding in the car asks me to slow down I will.

    Reply
    1. blackcat

      When you say this, “you shouldn’t worry about his driving style when you’re not going to be in the car with him” be aware that that is hard for many people.

      Lots of folks, like myself, have had friends killed by drivers speeding recklessly. In the case of my friend, someone (not drunk) was going 90 ish on the highway and swerved to miss a random piece of trash on the road. They lost control, flipped their car over, landing on my friend’s car. My friend was killed instantly. So, yeah, I’m always going to worry about someone if I know they regularly drive at speeds >80mph. I’m not necessarily worried *for* them, but I’m worried about the people around them. I can’t turn off that worrying–particularly since I know enough physics to understand how hard it is to control a car at those speeds.

      Now I might not *do* anything, but that’s different from worrying.

      Reply
    2. Hannah

      Yeah, I thought the same. It’s a rented Camaro, I don’t have a problem with someone playing around with it and driving it hard, in general. The paddle shifters are there, I’m not sure what’s so scandalous about using them. I am a nervous passenger, but I’d probably trust someone who is focusing totally on driving and even “racing” (within reason) to someone who driving slowly but inattentively, checking their phone. That’s just my personal comfort level, I actually want to see that the driver is “into” driving to prove they aren’t distracted.

      Just say something if someone driving does something that makes you uncomfortable. If they don’t know you’re silently freaking out, you can’t be upset that they didn’t accommodate you.

      Reply
      1. Laurel Gray

        “Just say something if someone driving does something that makes you uncomfortable. If they don’t know you’re silently freaking out, you can’t be upset that they didn’t accommodate you.”

        This is the short and sweet resolution to this letter. I completely agree.

        Reply
      2. TL -

        Most people are worse drivers than they think they are and “totally focused on driving” doesn’t mean they have any idea how to react appropriately if something happens. I’ve known some drivers who are really focused and go really slow and terrify me beyond belief.
        Distracted driving is also terrifying, but just because they’re paying attention doesn’t mean they’re a good driver. They still have to react appropriately to the information they’re given.

        Reply
      3. Jinx

        I think there are shades of reckless in sports cars – accelerating quickly, shifting gears, going a few miles above the speed limit, those things I may not like but I wouldn’t make a fuss. But if we’re talking 10 to 20 miles over the speed limit and swerving through traffic (which I see a *lot* with sports car drivers in my area), that’s not really okay.

        To me, he has the right to drive how he wants (and accept the consequences) on his own. But when he’s driving for work with a coworker in the car, there should be different standards. Given that he’s the CEO’s son and is already thought of as ‘spoiled’, he’s probably not going to get taught that.

        I agree that OP should ask him to slow down and then try to make alternate transportation arrangements the next time she needs to go somewhere with him.

        Reply
  24. HR Pro

    #5 If you really feel strongly about including a cover letter, then include it as the first or last page in the file with your resume. However, you should also think about whether a company is sending a signal that they don’t want lengthy cover letters when there is only a smallish box to include the information (as you described in your example).

    Reply
    1. penny

      We have something similar to this,it says comments or notes. It’s mainly because, while we’d love a cover letter, we know a lot of people won’t take the time to write one and it’s not required. But if someone does write one (esp a good one) it stands out. I wrote one using AAM advice and got hired!

      My advice is don’t ever feel like you can’t submit one unless it actually says not to. If you have one that makes you a sonnet candidate, go for it. Some people use the box to mention location issues (relocation stuff ) which can be helpful and some just do the pretty generic stuff that they’d love a chance to talk blah blah. I’d prefer to have something there that pertains to your candidacy.

      Reply
  25. Granite

    For #1, I have to say I decided long ago to never, ever talk to the press again, because of how badly I was misquoted and misinterpreted the few times I agreed to talk to reporters in my early 20s. If you were to ask me to talk to me about a story now, and said I would not be permitted to review a draft for accuracy, I would simply decline. Sadly, some bad eggs have given journalists such a bad reputation with lots of ordinary folks like me that the only people who will talk to you are folks with an agenda. As you’ve found from their attempts at self serving rewrites. It’s vicious cycle. I have no solution for you, just sympathy. You’re in a tough profession.

    Reply
  26. RVA Cat

    So here’s another thought re: OP #1 – since it’s a rental car, could the OP report it to the rental company? Also, note that the rental company may be monitoring the driving via OnStar, etc.

    Reply
    1. The Bimmer Guy

      Traditionally, telematics systems like OnStar—which is used on General Motors cars, like the Camaro—don’t monitor drivers’ driving until initiated by some sort of action (a collision, a reported theft, a mechanical failure, et cetera). Some of the latest GM cars, however, do have helicopter-parent functions that let the owner of the car set boundaries, monitor the car’s speed, limit the volume, et cetera. However, that’s beyond the scope of what a rental-car agency pays attention to. Half the time, if a rental car even has an active OnStar subscription, it’s just the trial that came with the car, and once it expires, the rental-car agency won’t renew it. This past weekend, I had a 2016 Cadillac Escalade ESV that was five months old or so, and its OnStar trial had ended.

      Reporting it to the rental-car agency isn’t a bad idea, but I could see the son just renting from a different agency or finding some other means by which to procure cars and drive recklessly.

      Reply
  27. Yep

    #3 – THANK YOU for posting this question. I had been toying with either writing Alison with basically that exact question or posting it on the open forum.

    A few months back I had to interview several uber smart science-y guys. Two of them told me they’d been misquoted in the press before, and asked to see the pieces beforehand. I thought, great! I should do this for every piece! (In the interest of full disclosure, I’ve had to run corrections before, which is horrific and unprofessional, so ensuring my sources feel accurately represented has become a top priority for me.)

    But yes, I quickly realized that I could get myself into a jam when I basically had the problem you did – a source almost completely re-wrote my story. When I interviewed him he was so incredibly candid, and when he saw what he’s said he almost had a heart attack, realizing his family would be reading this article. He backpedaled a lot. I rewrote it again, using a combo of my original stuff and his newer stuff, and we came to an agreement and we were both very happy with the piece, but that was a lesson for me.

    If you aren’t already, I would suggest recording your interviews (or documenting via email) to ensure you have the correct quote and follow up with that if you need to. During my I-can’t-have-one-more-correction phase, I had a source ask me if she could change her job title in the article. I told her unfortunately we couldn’t run a correction at this point and we’d have to stick with the agreed upon title, which I had documented in email. Phew!

    I apologize for the long anecdotal comment, but just wanted to share – I’ve been in the same boat and appreciate so much your posing this question.

    Reply
    1. Jenna

      When I’ve had to report on complex stuff I didn’t really understand completely, I’d ask the source if I could read those parts back to them over the phone before the article ran to see if I grasped it and explained it correctly in my article. I’ve found that the sources really appreciate that, even though I did it just to cover my own ass and avoid a correction.

      Reply
    2. Ad Astra

      In the future, I’d restrict any prior review to just direct quotations and facts. If you’re not confident that you’re accurately describing something technical in your own words, it’s fine to send an excerpt to that source and ask him to confirm that it’s accurate.

      Don’t let people take back factual things they said just because they regret saying them. You may decide not to include some things, depending on how important they are to your story and how important your relationship with this source is. Sometimes people tell you embarrassing or incriminating stuff that has nothing to do with your story (and isn’t worth writing a new story about), and it’s fine to pretend you didn’t hear it. But your first responsibility is to tell the truth, and letting your sources edit your work for their own benefit isn’t doing anything good for the truth.

      Also, in my experience, many people who claim (and sometimes honestly believe) they were misquoted or misrepresented are just unhappy with how the truth looked on them. Most people perceive themselves to be likable, and perceive their views to be correct or at least legitimate. When the things they say, knowingly, to a journalist don’t back up that perception, they get mad. (In the case of scientific or technical stories, I would guess it’s unfortunately fairly common for journalists to misunderstand or misapply something an expert says.)

      Anyway, recording your interviews is always a good idea. It helps you avoid misquoting someone in the first place and then protects you from those allegations when they arise.

      Reply
    3. Mike C.

      It’s too bad they went so far, but I understand their fear. Science reporting is uniquely terrible with folks being misquoted, the scope of work being expended all over the place, no context of the findings and so on.

      Reply
    4. folklorist

      Yes, please don’t send the whole article! It feels weird at first, but having a few phrases in your pocket is really helpful.

      #1, at the beginning of the interview, I always ask permission to record. That way I get two-party consent and they know that everything they say will be in context, exactly as you said it. They can’t backpedal from that.

      #2, blame it on the company. “I’m sorry, but it’s against our editorial policy for me to send direct quotes or whole articles. If I am in doubt about what you meant, I promise to follow up with questions for clarification.” Then…actually follow up! They so appreciate when you do that because you care about how they are represented.

      And sometimes, you may get something wrong, or someone will be pissed about how they’re portrayed. It happens and it sucks. You also can’t know when they say they have been misrepresented, if they truly were, or if they just didn’t like the mirror pointed back at at themselves.

      Sometimes, there are also points that they really thought were important, and we’re good quotes, but they don’t fit in the article and get cut. You can send them a reminder that space is precious and they said so many wonderful things that not everything could make it!

      Take it from me…my worst nightmare is being that journalist that makes people afraid to talk to journalists. I always go out of my way to portray people accurately. As in every job, however, you’re going to make mistakes. Unfortunately for us, ours are read and commented on by tons of people! Good luck!

      Reply
  28. The Bimmer Guy

    #OP1 — I can’t imagine that things are going to get any better once the brat–I mean, son–takes over the company. I’d start planning your exit strategy now. But in the meantime, Alison, if the son insists on driving and his father insists on letting him do so, is there something from a legal / hostile-work-environment standpoint that OP1 can do? She shouldn’t be forced to ride in a car with someone who drives recklessly and endangers her safety.

    Reply
    1. Ask a Manager Post author

      I can’t think of any legal strategy, but she should just be able to decline to ride with him. Few companies are going to force her to ride with him anyway. But before it gets to that point, the first step is to speak up when he’s driving too fast, because it’s extremely likely that that will solve it.

      Reply
      1. What's Your Life Worth?

        That would require her getting back into the car with him. What if that time is the time something happens?

        Reply
        1. Ask a Manager Post author

          That’s why she says something immediately and assumes he’ll slow down, since most people will. If he doesn’t and she feel she’s in danger, she can ask him to stop the car so she can get out. But seriously, it’s like 99% likely that he’ll slow down when she asks.

          Reply
  29. Cass

    +1,000 for not showing articles to your sources before publication. Maybe look into Poyter for some additional journalism tips if you aren’t familiar with them? (I’ve learned a lot in my tenure as a reporter – like when you are covering an event you can’t eat any food provided. It never would have occurred to me, but my editor said it’s a no-no.)

    Reply
    1. Ad Astra

      Oddly enough, the food thing is not a blanket policy at all publications. In fact, sports writers are provided with food at almost every game they cover (not common in high school sports, but standard practice in professional and D-1 athletics).

      Reply
  30. Roscoe

    I love the judgment on here that because the son in question #1 is driving fast (don’t know if its actually reckless, dangerous, etc) and that someone thinks he is spoiled (Which may or not be true, its a complete perspective thing) that it means that he will be a bad CEO. Driving ability and being spoiled have literally nothing to do with running a company. OP didn’t even give examples of why he is spoiled. But now all these people saying he should leave since he will CLEARLY be awful when he takes over.

    Reply
    1. Florida

      I agree that it is a bit extreme to tell OP to look for a new job. We don’t know how long it will be before the son takes over (it could be another 30 years!). We don’t know if his risky behavior extends to other areas beyond his driving. We don’t know so many things.
      It is a bit dramatic to expand this problem to be much more than OP is not comfortable riding int he car with the son.

      Reply
    2. Persephone

      I really enjoy this website and its discussion and its one of the best run online communities I’ve ever been in, but sometimes the judgements, assumptions, and projecting are frustrating.

      Reply
      1. Ask a Manager Post author

        I tend to agree … but I also think it’s part of the deal when you have a large group of strangers from many different walks of life. There’s just going to be good and bad to that unless you turn it into a closed group or severely limit posting (which would totally change the character of it).

        Reply
    3. Ad Astra

      I assume the OP mentioned the fact that he’s spoiled to indicate that the CEO’s son gets away with things he shouldn’t and the business is run in a way that caters to him even when he’s clearly wrong or unreasonable. That’s not a recipe for a good CEO. Can someone be a good CEO if they grew up spoiled in the sense of always having nice things that they didn’t exactly earn? Sure. Can a reckless driver be a good CEO? Sure, until he’s killed or arrested. But if OP says his being spoiled is part of the problem, I’m inclined to see that (and him) as a negative.

      Reply
      1. Ultraviolet

        Yeah, I thought OP’s purpose in mentioning the son is spoiled was to explain why they were worried they’d lose their job if they annoyed him by asking him to slow down, which is pretty consistent with what you’re saying.

        Reply
  31. Leslie Knope's Waffle

    #3 – I’m a freelance writer who covers a very specialized sport. There’s probably less than 20 people worldwide that cover this sport on an expert level. I write frequently for one particular publication and most of my articles are in-depth features (as opposed to “breaking news” items).

    When I started several years ago, I used to not have my draft of the article reviewed by my sources. After a couple of angry interviewees reached out to my editor, I started asking every source to review the draft prior to publication. My main objective in doing this is because I want to ensure that they were quoted correctly and in context. 99% of the time, the sources are just fine with the article and very much appreciate being able to read it before it’s printed. Occasionally, I will have someone who feels they were misquoted or it was taken out of context, so it gives me the opportunity to talk to them again and get more clarification. This system has worked out very well.

    No one likes to be “surprised” in print. I want to continue working in this sport and I feel like this small step helps to protect these relationships.

    Reply
    1. Leslie Knope's Waffle

      FWIW, I’ve never been in the OP’s situation where a source wants to rewrite the article. I also take very detailed notes and email exchanges, so I have proof to pull from if there are any issues.

      Reply
  32. Ad Astra

    Not every free-lance writer is a journalist. If you want to call yourself a journalist, you have to hold yourself to journalistic ethical standards. That means you generally don’t give sources prior review, and you sure as heck don’t let them re-write your story to make themselves or their businesses look better. If the publication you’re writing for isn’t beholden to that extremely basic tenet of journalistic ethics, it’s not a journalistic publication. And that’s ok — plenty of magazines, blogs and newsletters exist primarily to promote businesses or products. But when it comes to ethics, brand journalism isn’t journalism.

    Reply
    1. What's Your Life Worth?

      Serious question: Journalists follow ethical standards?

      And if they do, where can these standards be found?

      Reply
      1. Ad Astra

        Those who study journalism in college are generally required to pass an entire course about journalistic ethics. When done right, the course helps them develop the skills to navigate gray-area situations. I find that journalists who majored in English or history or whatever often don’t have the same skills and knowledge about ethics, even if their technical skills are just as good as a j-school grad. (The good ones, of course, are able to catch up quickly.) I also find that many publications are a little bit looser than I expected when it comes to things like conflict of interest.

        Reply
      2. Young reporter

        A lot of organizations have individual ethics codes (my mid-sized newspaper certainly does), but the Society of Professional Journalists Ethics Code is often used as a template: http://www.spj.org/ethicscode.asp

        Newspapers tend to be more hard-line about these things than anyone else and I’m mostly speaking from that perspective, but standard ethics include:

        -Representing yourself transparently as a journalist at all times (ie, no calling someone to get information by just pretending to be an interested member of the public)
        -Not accepting gifts or other favors from sources (I cover law enforcement and have gotten into so many friendly arguments with police officers trying to buy me coffee)
        -Seeking out people in news stories and giving them an opportunity to respond (so, no calling the city council president and writing a story about his beef with the mayor without making a good faith effort to get comment from the mayor)

        Plus things like being accurate, seeking out diverse voices and stories, not stereotyping and remembering our function as a watchdog for the public.

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      3. b

        Don’t look at tabloids or sensational journalism for ethics. All respectable (real) journalists follow a strict code of conduct.

        Reply
  33. b

    As a fellow journalist – NEVER show a subject your copy. People are crazy. The only times I ever did were when we published heavily technical academic whitepapers. You don’t owe them anything!

    Reply
  34. Chinook

    OP#4 – as an almost cougar (I was 30 when I met and married 21 y.o. DH) my first response is that no one with an opinion that counts will care. My second response would be to anyone who threatened my job over a pre-existing marriage – what do they think that would look like if it got into the media, deeming that a woman was unworthy of a job based on her spousal choice? (ditto for the reverse).

    Reply
    1. Green

      I have two colleagues with much older spouses (as in 30somethings with 60+ spouses) and they typically mention that their husband is much older when discussing their families. They don’t need to at all, and it’s only interesting because it rebuts an assumption, but that’s on the people with the assumption rather than the people who are married to much older spouses.

      Reply
  35. Newlywed

    OP #1
    If it’s that bad, can you offer to drive instead? And come up with some excuse (maybe medical) why you need to do so? I feel your pain; there are people I won’t ride with (friends) because I think they are crazy drivers, and I used to have a boss who drove like a bat out of hell. I say risking your life just isn’t worth it.

    Reply
  36. That Marketing Chick

    #2 There are 2 salespeople in my company who do this quite often, and it drives me completely crazy. I truly think that they hit the “send” button and then get up and walk to my office to talk to me about it. I am always knee-deep in about 20 different things, so I do NOT immediately check my email every time I see a new one has come in – I would never get any work done.
    I appreciate you asking this question; it has prompted me to be more direct with them next time this happens.

    Reply

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