Bad News about Business–chicken or the egg?

April 2, 2007

Frankly, I’m a little stunned by this headline from leading media research firm Delahaye: Corporate Misdeeds Lead to Negative News Environment.

It seems to make the assumption that the news business is just there to report the facts and if there is an increase in negative reporting about bad things happening in business, it is therefore logical that there is more bad behavior in business. There is no doubt that there are a lot of ethical failings in business. As there are in education, in religion, in the arts, in sports, in politics etc etc etc. Personally I have not seen any evidence of more moral failings in business than in any other human activity. But that is not the way it is portrayed in the media. Particularly as it relates to big business. We are raising a generation of young people who believe that most evil that happens in the world is because of big business–this in my mind is due to the bias in our education system and in our mainstream media. Now that is strongly reflected in the blog world as well. I provided some intriguing evidence for this bias in my book Now Is Too Late2–where our mass entertainment usually selects business people for the bad guys because, as one film executive said, if we choose business people to be the bad guys it is what the audience expects and “would we be so wrong?”

Information and entertainment have become inextricably entwined–infotainment. And telling of the personal sacrifices, the rapid increase in Corporate Social Responsibility, the good solid ethical work done by millions of hard working people in big and small business alike–these things do not sell newspapers, do not create ‘breaking news’ stories on local tv, and don’t attract audiences.

Am I biased? You bet your bippy. I’m biased against infotainment and the natural result of emphasizing the evil, violence and ugliness of the world. Including that which can be far too easily found in big business–just like every other human endeavor.

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