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Question re: conflicts of interest
Posted - 2/7/2013 1:09:42 PM | show profile | email poster | flag this post
I work in communications and publishing for an educational association, and several people--including the president of the organization--have told me that any sort of freelance writing would constitute a professional conflict of interest because the association is non-partisan.
I haven't actually been publishing freelance articles for a couple of years, but I'm really bothered by this purported restriction on what seems to me to be a sort of freedom of expression.
Given the nature of my organization, I would certainly understand a conflict in publishing strong personal opinions of politics, legislation, or educational issues, but all my published writing outside of my day job has dealt with entertainment and LGBT social issues. I've also always used a variation on my byline name for the full-time job and freelance articles.
I am posting this because I realize this sort of issue is not black and white and that I have personal feelings tied to this. I don't understand why an organization would even hire a person with two degrees in writing if this is the sentiment.
The comments have always been posed as vague semi-threats; for example, the coworker mentioned above just said she knows "several people who have been taken down" after having made public statements about political opinions.
I'm just not sure exactly where the line is, and I know that the most precise answer would come from my supervisor, but I am also interested in your opinions. As noted, this isn't really an issue for me currently because I haven't been doing any freelance writing, but I'm still annoyed about these comments.
Posted - 2/21/2013 1:31:50 PM | show profile | flag this post
Honestly, I wouldn't worry about it. Unless it is stated categorically in the employee handbook or whatever, its just them talking out of their asses.
If you're writing on another subject that has nothing to do with the association's mission, you're free and clear. I just wouldn't bother announcing any of it to your associates
Posted - 2/23/2013 9:51:06 PM | show profile | flag this post
All freedom of speech means is the government can't stop you from or punish you for expressing yourself.
In most cases, an employer can fire you for anything they want or for no reason.
I was on staff for a national magazine where the employee manual required you to get your supervisor's permission before freelancing for anyone else. Primarily, they didn't want you writing for the competition,
In this case, it seems they don't want you expression opinions about political stuff while you work for the organization, which is understandable.
As far as the line, you have a couple of choices. You could ask. Or you could simple do what you want. By that I mean, if you decide to write an article, and you know it has no connection to your organization at all, you could just do it. If anyone sees it and gets bothers, you could discuss it and apologize or whatever.
Could you still get fired? Sure. But your boss could fire you because he doesnt like your shoes.