THE MEDIA AND BUSINESS by Howard--Ed. Simons


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It's hard enough to make panel discussions meaningful for participants and listeners, let alone turn them into edifying reading. Latest proof are these transcripts from a 1977 seminar sponsored by the Ford Foundation and six newspapers including the New York Times, Washington Post, and Wall Street Journal, which brought together ""dozens of eminent journalists and dozens of prestigious business leaders. . . to lock biases and to exchange fundamental beliefs and fundamental differences."" Despite participants like Benjamin Bradlee, McGeorge Bundy, and Gloria Steinem, the discussion offered nothing new, and worst of all, we don't know who said what because they are not identified in the transcripts except as first reporter, third editor, etc. HEW Secretary Joseph Califano and Washington Post managing editor Howard Simons summarize the discussion in their introduction: the media feels ""business always hides its wrong-doing"" and it alone ""penetrates the stone wall,"" while business feels that ""it builds up; the media tears down."" To elicit these revelations, panelists discussed how they would handle hypothetical cases--a new drug's unforeseen side effects; a Middle East arms deal involving pay-offs; a reporter masquerading as a bank teller, uncovering fraud. This ploy may have enlivened the event, but to the reader already in the dark about who's talking, a bunch of fictitious names just adds to the confusion. As FIFTH BUSINESSMAN said, ""I think a lot of what we've heard for the last two days is a lot of bunk.

Pub Date: Feb. 1st, 1979
Publisher: Vintage/Random House