The balancing act in business journalism

The balancing act in business journalism

J. Jennings Moss

J. Jennings Mossthe departing editor of the Silicon Valley Business Journal, writes about the difficulty that faces business journalists.

Moss writes, “Unlike other some other lines of journalism, business news can be a bit incestuous. We’re writing about companies that might be advertisers. Or our advertisers come to us with legitimate story ideas about their activities or tips about what their competitors are doing. Like everything else, every idea needs to be evaluated on its merits.

“Sometimes, though, someone will accuse us of not being there for the home team. Or we’ll get blamed if a company goes under while they’re a subject of news stories. My response to such criticism is this: we are not the Chamber of Commerce. We’re not boosters but story tellers and truth gatherers. One way I think we’re different than general media is that we’re more willing to give a new business the benefit of the doubt; we don’t automatically go looking for the negative.

“Consider this the flip side of giving someone the benefit of the doubt. Business media also needs to ask tougher question and, when appropriate and warranted, to be more critical. The challenge is this kind of journalism takes time and resources and persistence. Those are all things that can be hard to find when information flows instantaneously, and a piece of news you weren’t expecting (which, let’s be frank, is a pretty good definition of what “news” means) derails your best-laid plans.”

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