Good press conference coverage
TheStreet.com’s Marek Fuchs notes that the coverage earlier this week emanating from the Ford Motor Co. press conference where Bill Ford stepped down as CEO and was replaced by a Boeing executive was exactly the type of story that the world of business journalism often misplays.
Fuchs wrote, “See, in the world of business, the press conference is the closest thing there is to a wedding. Everyone is happy and scripted and hope for any type of merger or shifty strategy — whoops, sorry, shift in strategy — seems high.
“Moreover, the business media never under-functions so reliably as at a press conference. A good spread of free Danish pastries and coffee sometimes lays siege to the media’s better judgment. But the larger issue is that the default mode of thought for business journalists is on-one-hand-on-the-other. Speak to both sides, split the difference.
“But at many press conferences (see Time Warner/AOL, which produced some of the most misguided business coverage since The Business Press Maven was thumb-sucking his way through middle school), both sides are on the same team.
“And even when the press conference is not about a merger but an appointment, the business media falls for the new face and new storyline that all the practiced participants in the press conference are peddling. A good business journalist wants to speak to someone who digresses from the party line, and they have to be hunted down outside the press conference.
“By the look of the majority of coverage that followed Mulally’s appointment and the stock strength that followed it, not too many dissenters were walking the streets of Dearborn, Mich. The coverage was fawning — unencumbered, shall we say, by much critical thought. A Detroit Free Press columnist even led with Mulally’s admission that he drove a Lexus as evidence of a bracing honesty that would be a grand asset in turning Ford around. Uh, what was he going to say — he drove a Focus?”
Read more here.