Jack Flack reveals
an open secret in the journalism community:
Business journalism sells best when it apes sports journalism, particularly
in framing clear conflicts that elevate the mundane into something more compelling.
That’s particularly true of business television. CNBC struggled until Ailes
focused it on the stock market, which effectively provided a scoreboard that
sets the context for hundreds of little dramas each day. Squawk Box was supposedly
modeled on ESPN’s Sports Center, and each day is neatly summarized by market
"winners" and "losers."
There are two consequences which follow from this fact – and it is
a fact. The first is that important business stories fail to be written, every
day, because there isn’t a nice obvious conflict to drive (readers to) the story.
The second is that very unimportant stories, about the Dow going up
or down a couple of hundred points in one day, take on a massively overblown
importance, because they fit so well into the winners-and-losers paradigm.
As a result, a good test of any business story is to ask yourself whether there’s
an obvious conflict driving it. If there is, then you might want to mentally
downplay it. If there isn’t, then it might actually be very important.