February 5, 2009, 6:00 am

A Meeting With A Business Journalist

by: The Financial Blogger    Category: MBA
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This post is not directly related to personal finance. Hey I admit, sometimes, I want to write about other stuff 😉 Seriously, this will still help you out understand what is going on in the business news as we get most of our information (beside when you are reading my blog 😉 hehehe!) from different media.

During our last MBA class in public relationship management, we had the opportunity to spend the afternoon with an experience journalist that came to talk to us about how they think, how they write and how to react in front of it.

Let me ask you this question: “If you are in a middle of an article and you realize that the news you are about to publish will jeopardize the future of a project creating thousands of jobs for a small region (due to the fact that the project is not far enough into conception before going public), would you still publish it?”.

Well, most journalists would apparently do it because they have to preserve press liberty at all cost. Interesting isn’t?

The very same journalist told me that we are talking and talking and talking about the terrible, never seen before, unique and catastrophic economic crisis like this because we didn’t have anything else to write about. There are not many wars or catastrophes these days so they can at least use the good old bear market as the next step of the world’s end.

This is when I start thinking about what I was reading only 2 years ago. “the oil barrel will reach $200 by 2009”, “Gold will break the 1,000$ stage and can reach up $2,000 very soon”, “TSX will get to 15,000 points before the next correction”.

The funny thing is that it wasn’t just headlines. Several journalists, backed by over intelligent expert, were justifying every single great headlines. 2 years ago, I could have probably give you 25 good and logic reasons why the oil barrel will reach $200 anytime soon. Today, I can find the very same 25 reasons why the oil barrel will stay at $35… Can we really consider this as information? It is so convincing and so empty at the same time I wonder who to believe?

So the question is the following: “should we listen to specialist, expert and journalist now that they are telling us that the end of the world is near?

Unfortunately, I don’t have the answer to this question. However, after meeting with this guy, I really wonder if journalists are writing to report news or simply to make a living and give us an interesting show?

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I’ve been pretty jaded by the news now, I started losing my faith when the people in the ‘party house’ I lived in [when i was young . . . way back in the day] did an interview with a journalist who said he was doing a comparison of party go-ers in cities across the country. The story was actually called ‘Death by Ecstasy’ highlighting how drug crazed teens are ruining their lives. (Though we were featured as a group saying you can have fun without the drugs).

Ever since then I take everything and assume they’ve twisted it beyond any realm of reason to make it look better, worse, more, or less than the actual event was just to make the story get more ratings. If it’s something I end up wanting to know more about I go online and find the real story by finding a few articles and piecing the facts together and ignoring all the reporters statements.

I assume the news shows are like ads, what they are saying is technically true, but you have to do your research to find out what they are actually saying.

It’s not easy being a journalist nowadays, I do not blame them!

Media will always have some bias. Media is written, produced or directed by humans. Media can be subjective and not completely honest in their portrayal of important issues and news. Media is usually owned by big corporations. Small underground media are trying to survive in this world and good ones are usually being acquired by the big ones.

wow!! TFB I would answer to the question: I will not listen to none of them, NO, the end of the world is not near!! I would re-phrase your question though: Should we listen to specialist, expert or journalist? That’s more controversial hehehe 🙂

Traciatim, you are right, because we are surrounded of lots of information and data (sometimes that can contradict on the same topic), I rather make my own research!!!

by: The Financial Blogger | February 6th, 2009 (7:10 am)

That’s an interesting story. The journalist was also telling us that they use that strategy of not telling what is their real topic in order to get more information.

Wow! It sounds like the guy you talked to either was an idiot or does not understand how to speak with university students. I’ve been both a journalist and a university prof, and I can guarantee that if you phrase things carelessly, smart students will instantly read all sorts of misperceptions into your words. I also can guarantee that lots of journalists are idiots.

“Well, most journalists would apparently do it because they have to preserve press liberty at all cost.”

No. The issue here is not freedom of the press — which, BTW, is a key element of the U.S. constitution and also a crucial element of a free polity determined by educated voters. The issue has to do with the public’s right to know. If some malfeasance is going on, or if the project will do some harm, the public and the regulatory institutions need to know about it. And the public needs to know the regulators know about it.

It’s highly unlikely that a corporation financed well enough to build a project that will create thousands of jobs will jump the gun on revealing its plans. Even if it did, a project that represented that much benefit to a region would be warmly welcomed by the public and by government leaders. There is no ethical requirement to protect a corporation’s business interests. When a person is interviewed by a reporter, the person knows he or she is being interviewed by a reporter, and whatever the person says can be expected to appear in the media. Controlling what is released to the public is the interviewee’s responsibility, not the reporter’s. The reporter would be remiss in failing to report what was learned.

“The very same journalist told me that we are talking and talking and talking about the terrible, never seen before, unique and catastrophic economic crisis like this because we didn’t have anything else to write about.”

This also is untrue. First, we indeed are seeing a serious economic crisis with elements that are unique in the history of developed nations.

Second, the jaded principle your guy was probably referring to is the marketing principle that says “if it bleeds, it ledes.” Scary, sensationalistic news sells newspapers. This is why the front page of your paper and the bulk of your local television Play-Nooz broadcasts are filled with stories about murder, mayhem, fires, baby drownings, and bloody car wrecks.

Another principle is that stupid stuff sells papers. This explains the interminable presence of stories about celebrities, their boobs, their drug use, and their misbehavior. It also explains why we get to enjoy so many other articles about woo-woo and wackiness. This material is called “infotainment.” It is the result of two things: the low level of primary and secondary education in this country, which has led to an uneducated reader who does not understand why it is important to understand what the rascals down at City Hall are up to; and the mistaken idea that sugaring news with amusement will get such readers to buy newspapers.

The widespread, demoralizing ubiquity of infotainment as a substitute for news reporting breeds cynicism and unhappiness among reporters. That is why you run into journalists who will say the things this gentleman did. Almost 100% of journalists today are cynical about the business and highly negative about the way most news organizations are run. You spoke with a very unhappy man, one who is justifiably unhappy.

Another set of well paid people who make things up and have no accountability.

[…] Financial Blogger  A Meeting with a Business Journalist The astonishing misperceptions that can be communicated to students with a few ill-chosen words […]

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