Jewish World Review July 23, 2002 / 14 Menachem-Av, 5762
http://www.NewsAndOpinion.com | Reporters have never been near the top of any popularity poll for practitioners of various professions. Every time there's any kind of survey, people in the news business score badly. There are at least three reasons:
With what facts he can get, a reporter has to try to write a story in a style that's interesting enough to attract readers. Style is not always compatible with facts.
So much in defense of reporters. There's no way they can defend themselves for the terrible job they've done reporting on Big Business. For years there have been daily features and magazine cover stories on the giants who've taken a company to the top. These have been success stories long on personal history, anecdotes and maybe even a little gossip but short on information about shady or illegal practices a tycoon may have employed to get where he is.
Week after week, television shows devoted to Wall Street have featured guests called "stock analysts." Does anyone ever recall Rukeyser pressing a guest to analyze the fraud that was going on in business? Not once?
Night after night, the network evening news shows dutifully said stocks were up or down (usually up). They never reported that anything in these corporations seemed to be sideways.
It's not just major corporations that have escaped media scrutiny. There must be hundreds of small, local businesses in every city engaging in practices that could command a banner headline.
News organizations need to be more aggressive in business reporting. The average reader doesn't know a stock option from a stock yard, but someone getting paid to report on business ought to have known something fishy was going on in the corporate world on a scale that makes the great bank robber Willie Sutton look like a small-time pickpocket.
If reporters had gone after Big Business the way they covered the forest fire in Arizona or a kidnapping, they would have hounded every high-level employee who got fired, looking for dirt. They would have gotten to insiders on corporate boards. They would have used all the traditional methods of seeking out information and quite possibly saved the country from this financial disaster before it happened.
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