OLD Media Moves

Executives more likely covered for wrongdoing, not philanthropy

September 26, 2007

Posted by Chris Roush

A year-long study of how business executives are portrayed on broadcast TV news shows by the Business & Media Institute concludes that businessmen are rarely represented, even in stories about business. When they did appear, it was often in tales of “another corporate crook” or a CEO’s “stratospheric sums” of money.

Researchers analyzed every broadcast of ABC’s “World News,” the “NBC Nightly News,” “CBS Evening News,” CNN’s “Lou Dobbs Tonight” and Fox News’ “Your World with Neil Cavuto” from Jan. 1, 2006, to Dec. 31, 2006, for portrayals of businessmen and women.

Business and Media InstituteAmong the findings:

  • Where Have All the Businessmen Gone?: On the three broadcast networks (ABC, NBC and CBS), businessmen appeared in just 37 percent of business stories. It’s hard to imagine stories about the environment featuring environmentalists only 37 percent of the time. Or political stories with politicians only 37 percent of the time. Journalists use a model for business coverage that they wouldn’t use for other types of news stories.
  • Big Oil, Big Food, Big Media: Big businesses were far more likely to make it into the news. About 78 percent of the businessmen mentioned came from big businesses. But small businesses employ about half of America’s private-sector workers, according to the Small Business Administration.
  • Taking, Not Giving: Businessmen showed up as criminals 1½ times more often than they did as philanthropists. CNN had a 7-to-1 criminal-to-philanthropist ratio.
  • Best Broadcast Network: ABC. “World News” was the most balanced of the network evening news shows, with exactly half of its portrayals positive and half negative. The ABC team also portrayed businessmen as philanthropists twice as often as criminals.
  • Read more here.

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