OLD Media Moves

The impact of the decline of business journalism on CEOs

September 29, 2009

William Holstein, a former editor in chief of Chief Executive magazine and former editor at BusinessWeek, writes about the impact of fewer business media outlets on CEOs.

Holstein writes, “First, it means that business coverage could become more negative toward profit and enterprise than it is today. ‘Young journalists may be too inexperienced to ask the tough questions,’ says Alex Jones, a Pulitzer Prize–winning journalist who runs the Joan Shorenstein Center on the Press, Politics and Public Policy at Harvard and is the author of Losing the News: The Future of the News That Feeds Democracy (Oxford University Press, 2009). ‘But they are equally vulnerable to being manipulated by people who are bad-mouthing the corporations.’ Criticism of corporations will be less nuanced, less aware of context, and less insightful. Competent, complacent, and craven companies — or divisions within companies — will all be tarred with the same brush.

“Second, the decline in business journalism gives corporate decision makers less of a platform to display and test their own company’s strategy. ‘It means that there are fewer opportunities for a CEO to get his or her story into the media,’ says CNN’s Kandel. ‘Where are the stories about companies that are innovating and doing good things? They’re not being covered the way they have [been] in the past.’

“But perhaps the worst effect is the most subtle: Corporate leaders now have fewer opportunities to learn from one another’s experience, or even to know what’s going on in their regions and industries. Business news increasingly appears on websites and blogs — a far more fragmented, fast-changing, narrowly focused, and unpredictable media environment. The kind of judgment, insight, and broad perspective (even on narrow how-to topics or gossip) that routinely informed a business article is invaluable — but much harder to come by now.”

Read more here.

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