Home » Articles written by experts » A Financial Media Challenge: Start Reporting on Good Guys

Trust Across America (TAA) receives frequent inquiries from the financial media. Here’s how the conversation usually goes.

TAA: Hello TAA. How can I help you?

Media: Hi! This is Debbie Downer from major financial news network. We understand that TAA ranks public companies according to their trustworthiness. Is that correct?

TAA: Yes we maintain a database of approximately 2500 public companies and our FACTS® Algorithm can measure the major drivers of trustworthy business behavior. We can even show you how each company ranks according to its market cap, industry and sector peers.

Media: Great. Can we get a list of the lowest ranked companies?

TAA: Just to clarify. You want a list of the least trustworthy companies?

Media: Yes

TAA: Sorry but TAA’s mission is to highlight the good guys. How about if we give you some examples of companies doing good and doing well at the same time?

Media: Good guys? No thanks. The public is not interested. Only bad news sells.


Jonathan Low at www.lowdownblog.com recently wrote about the disappearance of the small investor, and with the help of Barry Ritholtz www.ritholtz.com/blog/ listed 10 reasons why. I propose #11.

#11 The financial media industry is obsessed with bad news and scandals of the day. How will confidence in the financial markets ever be restored if this cycle continues? Jonathan and Barry, it’s really not a matter of poor returns. There are great companies who are meeting the needs of all their stakeholders including their shareholders.

It’s the responsibility of the financial news networks to refocus. Report to the public about companies that are behaving in a trustworthy manner. A few names that come to mind are Accenture (Symbol: ACN) and United Natural Foods (Symbol: UNFI). We are not suggesting that these companies are perfect. They may trip along the way.  But our research shows that they will also recover much faster. They have “banked” trust.

So to all the Debbie Downers of the financial news networks. Here’s my suggestion. Try highlighting a few of the good guys. Treat the public with more respect. Use this as an opportunity to be a positive role model for the rest of your industry. Don’t be part of the race to the bottom. Don’t be that guy (or gal)!

What do you think? Should the financial news networks report more good news? Send your comments to barbara at trustacrossamerica.com

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5 Responses to “A Financial Media Challenge: Start Reporting on Good Guys”

  1. August 21st, 2012 at 09:23 | #1

    Here here! Thanks for the insightful blog. I hope the business media heeds this wisdom soon. Our global financial recovery is at stake.

  2. August 21st, 2012 at 09:25 | #2

    PS: Apparently the correct version is Hear, hear! From town crier days. But the “here and now” of the message influenced my spelling!

  3. August 21st, 2012 at 09:56 | #3

    We have a similar problem at CSRHub. We track the corporate social responsibility performance of about 5,000 companies. However, we always get asked “who are the most sustainable companies?”

    Seems like a lot of the folks who rank and rate publish their “top 100” or “best 50” lists. They focus on the good because they get money (ads, subscriptions, or consulting opportunities) from the companies they are rating. I’m kind of surprised that Debbie Downer doesn’t worry that her ad desk will kill her story, if she writes it?

    The other issue here is that there are some perspective issues when measuring things like social performance (and maybe trustworthiness?). People have legitimate differences in their values and these differences lead them to judge companies differently. So, asking for any “top” or “bottom” list trivializes the thought process involved in understanding sustainability.

  4. Piotr Cofta
    August 21st, 2012 at 11:40 | #4

    Media tend to seek what is out of ordinary, whether good or bad. Apparently in this case they believe that all the business is trustworthy, and the lack of trustworthines is a sensational exception. As if! Actually, finding a trustworthy company is a noteworthy exception.

    I wonder what is the position of major news corporations on your list of trustworthy companies? Maybe that’s something that they would like to contemplate.

  5. September 4th, 2012 at 12:18 | #5

    Too few newsrooms appear interested in rich provocative discussion and possibly influencing change on any level. Those which do, stand to gain a loyal audience over time, valued for their ability to be a public conscience. I prefer the good news story over the bad any day, often because the bad news is tiring and tiresome. The good news though is better news when set to context and imparts some lessons along the way. This will help to build and sustain trust long term.

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