Ted Koppel was interviewed last week at the Mark Twain House in Hartford and was asked what happened to “news”. The explanation was unsettling and I’ll do my best at sharing his response. He reminded us that a democracy depends upon an informed electorate. TV channels apparently must have a “public good” purpose in order to maintain their license with the FCC, which he says has become a “paper tiger”. That public good was the news, which was never a profit-making venture…. until CBS created 60 Minutes and the “news” channels suddenly realized there was money to be made in reporting “news”. Since then, rather than the “news” reported on events we might not particularly have wanted to hear as in the past, they now report on what Charlie Sheen or Casey Anthony or Kim Kardashian are doing. ABC has only FIVE foreign correspondents so any hope of learning of something bubbling up internationally is not going to happen there. He says the major news networks should have been reporting on the Somalian humanitarian crisis long ago…Foreign correspondents on the ground there would have seen it unfolding. He also added that “news” no longer goes through the vetting process of prior times. Koppel complimented NPR for staying true to the mission of reporting the news. My takeaway was that we all have to work harder at defining what is important to us and our companies, and we must seek out the information that truly matters and is accurate as we work at defining strategy and the future of our companies. The risks of not doing so are great.
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