The danger of nice journalists, part 1

Tomorrow's Business

Are hacks getting nicer? There are worrying signs that we may be.

As a former colleague once explained, ideally a journalist starts the day with a raging hangover which informs a loathing of successful people, a sense of moral outrage and a deep suspicion that an injustice is about to occur.

So when Big Company X reports that it made a nice profit, treated its staff well, rewarded shareholders and is half-way to curing cancer, our hack gets to work on explaining why this is simply Not Good Enough and why the chief executive should be fired.

It should be like this not just because it suits the personalities of some journalists, it is the societal function of the press.

The flaks job is to tell us why things are great. The hacks job is to tell us why they are rubbish.

He shouldn’t print stuff that is unfair, but he should be hardwired to assume that most corporate statements are guff.

These rules were suspended during lockdown, I think.

In the circumstances, we decided, any company that was staying afloat must be doing a decent job. Big job cuts were an inevitability rather than a sign of mismanagement.

And events outside were so grim there was hardly any need to go in search of bad news.

That was then. Things are moving on. Time for gloves off.

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