The President In New York City: What’s News?

By February 2, 2007General

This week, as we noted yesterday, the President traveled to New York City, made a speech to a business group and then hit the floor of the NY Stock Exchange to the general adulation and cheers of the assembled multitude. In yesterday’s papers (and if you Google it, you’ll see it reflected there) the big story was his remarks on executive compensation. Let us pose a little experiment:

Here’s a link to the President’s speech. Go ahead, take a little while (it’s long) and read it. Tell us when you get to the part about executive compensation. We’ll help you out a little. By our count, there are about 60 paragraphs in this speech, over 5300 words in all. The exec comp part lies in paragraphs 57 and 58, numbering just 177 words. Yet somehow in a speech that touched on legal reform, taxes, trade and some very good news about the economy, the story became one of executive comp.

The fact is, the press was looking for this story, made a mountain out of molehill. It’s more fun for them to report the negative than the positive. If they were really interested in excessive comp, they’d go look at the top trial lawyers, who suck billions of dollars out of the system each year. Unlike the CEO’s, they create no jobs, only a bigger financial burden on every working American.

It’s just a little window into the soul of how the press decides what’s news and how the pack mentality works. Look at it this way: If you read (or listened to) this speech, would that be the story you’d write?