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Exploring Leadership in the News with Steven Pearlstein and Raju Narisetti

THE QUESTION

Craigslist: Sticking to your guns

In defending Craigslist against charges that it facilitates prostitution and casual sex and undermines the news business, founder Craig Newmark relies on an unwavering commitment to free expression, free markets and an open Internet. Is such an unwavering commitment to core principles the essence of leadership, or is leadership more about accommodating core principles to other social needs and values?

Posted by Steve Pearlstein and Raju Narisetti on September 7, 2010 8:19 AM
FROM THE PANEL
Michael Maccoby

Newmark defending dangerous precedent

Free expression and a free market are values that strengthen a prosperous and democratic society. But appealing to values of free expression and a free market can also justify amoral or immoral actions. That is why there are laws and regulations that limit freedom when its expression damages people or limits the freedom of others. To proclaim unbridled freedom as a principle...

Posted by Michael Maccoby, on September 8, 2010 11:55 AM
Katherine Tyler Scott

Managing the tension between intent and impact

Leadership is not value neutral; some values serve a positive social purpose and some do not. The espoused reason for the existence of Craigslist was at risk of being overshadowed by those who values are the commercialization of sexual expression. A leader would ask himself whether...

Posted by Katherine Tyler Scott, on September 8, 2010 11:15 AM
Kathryn Kolbert

Stick to your principles Craig!

Like Craig Newmark, I am a vigorous advocate of the First Amendment and an open internet. Government should not prohibit nor interfere in the content of Craigslist's ads. Where there is concrete evidence of criminal activity or obscenity, the government can request that particular ads be taken down. Craigslist can then make decisions on a case by case basis. But pressure from the government for removal of all ads...

Posted by Kathryn Kolbert, on September 8, 2010 11:09 AM
Slade Gorton

Leadership is more than maximizing profits

The First Amendment allows Craigslist to post what it will, but it doesn't make it socially responsible. Nor does it justify whining about criticism that asks for that responsibility. Leadership calls for far more than simply maximizing profit...

Posted by Slade Gorton, on September 7, 2010 4:12 PM

Finding the lesser of two evils

Leadership is the ability to navigate the poles of the liberty-equity spectrum and draw the best solution for the context - and further, to inspire and influence others to achieve the desired end state. With regard to the United States, the framers created broad limitations steeped in a liberal tradition, but...

Posted by West Point Cadets, on September 7, 2010 3:55 PM
Ken Adelman

Tactical flexibility, Reagan-style

Ronald Reagan set the leadership model here - no, not on "prostitution and casual sex," but on remaining firm on strategic goals yet loose on interim measures. Reagan's strategic goals were clear and remarkably consistent. His final address as president in January 1989 featured...

Posted by Ken Adelman, on September 7, 2010 1:10 PM
John Baldoni

Craigslist changed policy, not principles

Craiglists's policies put a premium on free expression. That is fine, but when it has been shown that some users of Craigslist have abused that privilege and using it to purvey and procure sex services, management is within its rights to change the policy. It can put limits on free expression...

Posted by John Baldoni, on September 7, 2010 12:17 PM
Doug Guthrie

Adopting principles for profit is weak leadership

In today's economy, we all too often see corporations and leaders using principled arguments when they are convenient and when they are profitable. The question of the essence of leadership, in this case, boils down to how transparent and consistent Craig Newmark has been about the issues of...

Posted by Doug Guthrie, on September 7, 2010 11:52 AM
Howard Gardner

Leaders must justify the value of their principles

Leaders need core principles, carefully arrived at, clearly articulated, maintained steadfastly even in the face of challenges. Otherwise, others will simply be confused by their actions and the reasons for them. But anyone who believes that core values are...

Posted by Howard Gardner, on September 7, 2010 10:32 AM

Voluntary standards not the same as mandatory law

Leaders have significant freedom of action in determining whether voluntary standards apply in all cases or require some modification.They have far less freedom in responding to the dictates of law.

Posted by Benjamin W. Heineman, Jr., on September 7, 2010 10:21 AM
Marshall Goldsmith

Confusing leadership and values

I believe that this question confuses 'leadership' and 'values'. Different people can have different values and still demonstrate leadership. If Craig Newmark wants to take a stand and be a leader in the fight for free expression, free markets and an open internet...

Posted by Marshall Goldsmith, on September 7, 2010 10:16 AM

Newmark fighting for free speech, upholding the law

In this instance, Craig Newmark and his colleagues are doing the right thing in trying to stick by their ideals. That's because from everything I've read, the law is quite clear: publishers of advertising content are not responsible for...

Posted by Jeffrey Pfeffer, on September 7, 2010 8:42 AM
Donald Kettl

Falling back on the same old song

A leader needs a compass to guide the way through the uncertainty that always comes with tough decisions. Malcom X reminds us that "If you don't stand for something you will fall for anything." But falling back on the same map for every question that comes up is...

Posted by Donald Kettl, on September 7, 2010 8:35 AM
Marty Linsky

Craigslist founder saw the writing on the wall

The art of leadership is knowing when to stick to your guns and when to accommodate other views. Newmark saw the handwriting on the wall. He was not willing to risk sacrificing the franchise on the altar of freedom to advertise the forced sexual exploitation of young women.

Posted by Marty Linsky, on September 7, 2010 8:28 AM

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