Principled Profit: The Good Business Blog

Musings on the world-wide movement for ethical business, frugal marketing, and how honesty, integrity, and quality combine with deep relationship building to create business success. By the originator of the Ethical Business Pledge campaign and award-winning author of Principled Profit: Marketing That Puts People First and five other books

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Saturday, April 30, 2005

Challenges for Business Journalists in an Ethically Challenged World

A fascinating and wide-ranging article from Investors Business Daily that looks at...

* Journalism's own ethics skeletons: made-up stories, fabricated quotes, bad judgment, inflated circulation figures, and a general credibility gap
* The lack of training for business journalists as most small local papers slash their business coverage
* Journalism's failure to pay attention to the signals before Enron and others collapsed--accepting company claims in the same spirit of "press release journalism" that mars--this is my opinion now, not article writer Jon Friedman's--its failure to ask hard questions of the government

Friedman doesn't comment on the scandal of VNRs: video news releases presented as actual TV news, without attribution to the government agency or corporation that prepared it with a particular agenda. and while he hints at it, I think he gives short shrift to some of the reasons behind these trends:

1] News decisions made by bottom line-focused executives with no understanding of the role news plays in a free society, and therefore no recognition of the value honest and thorough news brings to the table, beyond dollars

2] The tragic tendency to replace discourse with "infotainment." If you watch many newscasts, or read many prominent publications, you'd come away with the impression that celebrities' love lives are more important than a solid discussion of, say, the reasons for foreign policy decisions or the impact of corporate outsourcing on a local economy.

This second factor has left an ill-informed populace with poor thinking skills. Sure, it's easy to find much more thorough treatment in the alternative voices; the problem is that these wonderful resources make very little impact on the mainstream, whereas the infotainment specialists have taken over the TV sets and daily newspapers that reach a majority of people. And this is dumbing down our whole culture.


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