In the taxi on the way home last night after (another) too long day in the office I was listening to a re-broadcast of what sounded like a BBC program on the current market conditions. I was very pleasantly surprised to hear it actually making sense – the talking heads chosen were happy to correct the journalist if she misunderstood and, even better, the journalist was willing to listen and incorporate the comments made by the interviewees.
There was a particularly good section on Citibank and Prince’s resignation. In this, the journalist asked if the sub-prime related write-downs were what had prompted him to go and the interviewee said that the write-downs certainly did not help, but the failure to knit the bits of Citi together over the years since the last lot of mergers was much more important. He also made the point that Rubin was definitely in Prince’s camp and, at 69, likely to stand down soon.
All in all a good program. Unfortunately, after a quick search this afternoon I cannot find it on the BBC website. It was re-broadcast in Australia at about midday GMT, probably live, if anyone can point to it.
This reminded me of an old bug-bear of mine about business journalism – with a few honourable exceptions, a lot of it is wrong or completely misses the point. As soon as it gets beyond simply reporting the facts much of the analysis seems misleading.
In risk management one of the great uncertainties is name risk – how can we be reasonably sure that an incorrect or overblown story does not (undeservedly) damage or destroy our reputation? Is it the fault of the journalists or of the business community if they print wrong or bad stories?
What can we do to avoid it or at least minimise the risks?