The end of serious biz journalism is near
TheDeal.com executive editor Yvette Kantrow wants to know why Forbes magazine has continued to publish a list of the most valuable fictional characters.
Kantrow wrote, “What can we say? We enjoy a good chuckle as much as anyone â€” although this doesn’t exactly make you weep with laughter â€” but when a well-known business magazine resorts to making stuff up in a bid to attract eyeballs to its Web site, one can’t help but feel that the end of serious financial journalism is near. It was bad enough when Forbes.com ran a piece a few months ago urging men not to marry career women; now it’s devoting resources to producing copy speculating on the net worth of Thurston Howell III. (By the way, the author of the heavily trafficked screed against career women, Michael Noer, is also the lead writer on the Fictional 15 feature.)
“And you know what? Forbes.com has actually been compiling the Fictional 15 since 2002. Is it just us, or does it seem a bit risky to continually parody what is essentially the cornerstone of the Forbes franchise â€” its Rich List? Plenty of critics have questioned the accuracy and value of the popular Forbes 400 ranking. (One of the most recent attacks came in Timothy O’Brien’s book, “TrumpNation,” published earlier this year and which attracted a suit from The Donald himself, but that’s a whole other story.) By running a fictional version of the listing, complete with statements like ‘For the first time in the Fictional 15’s history, Santa Claus has been unseated from the number-one spot, replaced by defense contractor Oliver ‘Daddy’ Warbucks,’ doesn’t it become harder to take the entire Forbes ranking machine at all seriously? The bigger question, of course, is what type of readers do such features attract? Are they the high-powered business and finance types that Forbes has traditionally delivered to its advertisers? At the risk of sounding like a stuffed shirt, one does recall with a shudder the venerable adage about bad money driving out good. Maybe we even read about it in the old Forbes.”
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