Atkinson professor offers tips for corruption-proofing your career

Most everyone has heard of Bernard Ebbers and WorldCom Inc. But what of Betty Vinson?, wrote Len Karakowsky a professor in York’s Atkinson School of Administrative Studies, in a how-to article on avoiding the traps of workplace corruption in The Globe and Mail Dec. 14.

Ebbers is serving a 25-year prison sentence for the US$11-billion fraud he orchestrated as chief executive officer of former US telecom giant WorldCom Inc. And Vinson? She worked in the accounting department at WorldCom, was also found guilty of taking part in the scandal and quietly served a five-month sentence.

Besides the notion that crime doesn’t pay, there’s a lesson here for all of us: You don’t have to be in the executive suite or upper management to become swept up in workplace corruption, wrote Karakowsky.

How do you avoid getting sucked into corruption? It will take scrutiny on your part to uncover the traps, discipline to steer clear of them, and courage to stand up for what you believe is right. Keeping both your job and your integrity intact can be a huge challenge. But it sure beats a prison term.

Fairness versus accuracy

A recent study, “Fairness in the News: A study of perceptions of fairness in political news”, offers some insights into the news media and its relationship with Canada’s national politicians, wrote The Welland Tribune Dec. 14.

The study, which was co-authored by University Professor Emeritus Fred Fletcher, director of York University’s Graduate Program in Communications & Culture, and Professor Andre Turcotte of Carleton University, was released a couple of weeks ago and touches on themes recently expressed in this column, said the Tribune.

The general public is inclined to agree with the politicians on this; as the 2004 Report Card on the Canadian News Media found, 79 per cent of the people surveyed believe reporters’ personal political preferences influenced their coverage at least some of the time.

It’s vital, as an industry, that the news media change that perception. If the general public believes the media to be biased, to be acting unfairly in its approach to a story or treatment of a specific person, then the public trust in the media and the news it reports is compromised.

Transit cash could put city in the black

The province’s decision to shower cities with $500-million in new transit cash means Toronto likely can balance its 2008 budget without a huge tax hike, the mayor and several councillors said, according to the National Post Dec. 14.

Most of the money is for GO Transit. The funding will: add 20 passenger coaches to GO’s Lakeshore line by 2009 ($60-million); add 10 double-decker GO buses to the Highway 407-403 corridor and to York University by 2009 ($9-million); expand tracks to add all-day, two-way train service between Toronto and Markham and Toronto and Newmarket-East Gwillimbury by 2009 ($20-million); and improve public transit in parts of Hamilton and York and Durham regions.

  • Roger Keil, director of the City Institute at York University, spoke about the funding announcement on 680News (CFTR-AM) Dec. 13. The news about increased GO bus service to York was also mentioned on Global TV News and CTV’s “Canada AM”.

Former student is Christmas all year round

It’s not often you meet someone with the name Christmas, particularly someone who conducts, arranges and composes Christmas music, wrote the Nanaimo News Bulletin Dec. 13. "There are a few Christmases going on," laughed former York student Jeff Christmas, who will be leading the Vancouver Island Symphony for Christmas Magic at Nanaimo, BC’s The Port Theatre.

Jeff not only inherited the Christmas name and a wicked sense of humour, he inherited incredible musical talent, said the paper. After a sojourn at York University, University of Western Ontario, and Berklee College of Music, where he majored in film scoring and composition, Jeff took on the position of composer in residence with Orchestra London on a two-year grant.