Some journalists give journalism a bad name

Journalists who advise boards to "sell the company" or "fire all the executives," but have no management experience, lack credibility. They also sound like complete idiots.

I don't know how many times I've read a post or an article by some small-minded, self-important journalist advising a public company's board of directors on how to "fix" the company. The most common advice is "sell the company," "fire the CEO," or better still, "fire all the executives."

Even if a company is screwing up, how is a journalist--whose entire management experience consists of looking at his watch to be sure he files a story by 3 p.m.--qualified to dole out management advice? Is mastery of a keyboard sufficient experience to know how to run a company?

Do these poor excuses for reporters have any idea how a company works? For example, does it really benefit shareholders to sell a troubled company when its stock is at its lowest and has no bargaining power? Did the reporter take a few months to analyze the company's situation and determine that an acquisition makes sense or is even plausible?

Sure, lots of executives are incompetent or dysfunctional. But is a journalist qualified to make that determination? In what universe does it make sense for somebody who writes about a company once or twice a year to make a critical determination that a CEO with 30 years' experience should be fired?

Maybe the most ludicrous advice is "fire all the executives." Is the board supposed to simply walk into an executive staff meeting and tell everyone they're fired? How exactly do you do that without either ending up indicted for breach of fiduciary responsibility or at the wrong end of a massive shareholder lawsuit since the action will surely harm the company?

Every time I read this kind of narcissistic journalism it makes me cringe like nails on a chalkboard. It's like Britney Spears giving advice on parenting, or O.J. Simpson teaching anger management. It's like Bernie Ebbers, Dennis Kozlowski, and Jeff Skilling teaching a class on business ethics.

On the other hand, I'm aware that this cuts both ways. I'm an ex-industry executive writing a blog. What qualifies me to be a writer? I didn't study journalism or literature. Journalists probably laugh at my crude grammar and composition, scoff at the way I structure my posts.

Well, the difference is that I don't presume to tell anyone how to write.

Last word:
I'm not saying that journalists shouldn't have an opinion. On the contrary, bloggers, columnists, pundits, have at it. But advising a corporation with thousands of employees, shareholders, and customers that it should sell the company or fire executives when you have no experience with that sort of thing simply lacks credibility. It also makes you sound like a complete idiot.

 

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