The week after CBS Television accepted an anti-abortion 30-second advocacy commercial in the Super Bowl featuring Heisman-Trophy-winning University of Florida quarterback Tim Tebow, CBS News was reported to be on the verge of laying off an estimated 100 people in its news operation.
More money from controversial advocacy commercials, but less money for CBS News, which includes its crown jewel "60 Minutes." Some priorities.
And the last reported compensation for CBS's CEO Les Moonves was almost $21 million in 2008. Lay off news people and take a controversial ad from a conservative anti-abortion group so it can afford to pay the boss $20 million? That must make people who work at CBS really want to hold their heads up high and motivate them to work ever so much harder – to win one for the Gipper.
No wonder that in the February 8 issue of FORTUNE in which it publishes its annual list of "The 100 Best Companies to Work For" there are no old-line media companies on the list. A new media company, Google, is number four on the list (down from number one last year).
Most people in America would rather work at Wegman's Food Markets, SalesForce.com, Whole Foods, Starbucks, or Nordstrom than old media companies such as Disney (ABC and ESPN), CBS, NBC Universal, News Corp. (Fox), Viacom, Time Warner, or any movie company, entertainment company, or music company.
These old media companies treat their employees the same way they treat their audiences – like dirty dogs – and it makes their employees and audiences mean and ungrateful.
Americans hate and distrust "the media" almost as much as they do used car salesmen and politicians -- "the media" meaning mostly the news media that don't mirror their point of view or "politicians" that don't reflect their biases.
If media companies want to get back their reputations and their audiences, they might think about changing their priorities, starting with how they treat their employees and their audiences. How about beginning by respecting them both? Putting them first, not their profits or their CEOs' salaries?
Until he retired in 2002, Charlie Warner was Vice President of AOL's Interactive Marketing division. Before joining AOL, he was the Goldenson Endowed Professor at the Missouri Journalism School where he taught media management and sales, and he created and ran the annual Management Seminar for News Executives. Charlie can be contacted at email@example.com.
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