Monday, November 22, 2010

If a Meeting Falls in the Forest ...

Writing in The Huffington Post the other day, Kitty Kelley (yes, that Kitty Kelley) bemoans the lack of coverage given to "a group of elite whistleblowers" who recently met in Washington, D.C., despite the fact that they've "helped enrich the U.S. Treasury by more than $16 billion since 1986." Kelley's point is that many of these folks have had a tough time of it -- ostracized, fired, and otherwise harassed for trying to prevent their (now-former) employers from defrauding the government -- and that they deserve more recognition for their efforts.

Which is probably true enough, but also feels like a variation on the philosophical puzzle "If a tree falls in the forest and no one is around to hear it, does it make a sound?" That is, if an important meeting is held but doesn't garner sufficient attention, is it actually an important meeting?

Unequivocally, yes. Hundreds of major conferences are held every day, bringing together people who individually or collectively have made lasting contributions to the world, and while it would be nice if every one of those events ended up on the front page, that's never going to happen. And, anyway, one of the primary reasons these conferences exist in the first place is to provide not just education for its attendees but also recognition and validation within the context of their profession. We meet because we want to connect with other people who understand and appreciate what we do.

Plus, it's not like no major media outlets have covered the whistleblower cause. Check out the profile of Harry Markopolos, the Madoff whistleblower, in last month's issue of Convene.

Photo by Steven DePolo

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