Why business journalism matters -Pakistan Press Foundation (PPF)

Paksitan Press Foundtion

Why business journalism matters

Kazim Alam

Business journalism receives little attention in Pakistan. My observation is that most newspaper readers don’t read the business section the way they read the news, sports or opinion pages.

Few newspaper readers have a favourite business writer. Of all the well-known journalists, op-ed writers (opinion and editorial), and analysts in our print media, hardly anyone specialises in business and the economy.

Despite readers’ general apathy, the fact remains that business journalism matters more than political journalism.

The op-ed pages of Pakistani newspapers are full of opinions and editorialisation. But you’d ask, “Isn’t that what op-ed is supposed to be:opinion and editorial?”

Well, yes, but compare the op-ed pages of Pakistani newspapers to those of international newspapers. The most striking difference you will find is that of the use of statistics by op-ed writers.

American op-ed writers use published data, official figures, polls, research studies, think-tank reports and survey results to back their opinions. On the contrary, Pakistani op-ed writers only rant. They express their frustration over the failing government, and they do so in words only.

Writers receive acclaim in the Pakistan press, only due to the application of sound writing skills. They receive readers’ approval only when they write creative sentences and make their opinion sound good. However, their writing lacks one component which is essential for any op-ed published in a foreign newspaper- the use of reliable data and credible information to support the writers’ assertions.

To offer a comparison, let’s assume that Pakistan’s best English op-ed writer is, Ayaz Amir, and America’s is Fareed Zakaria. I challenge you to find just one article out of thousands that Zakaria has written which doesn’t quote some kind of statistical evidence or use published data. Similarly, I challenge you to find a single article out of thousands that Amir has written which does quote any statistics.

I have outlined, below, a few comparisons to further clarify my argument:

– Political journalism is juicy, but inconsequential. Business journalism is serious and important.

– Political journalism pushes readers to take extreme positions. Business journalism pulls people towards the centre of the ideological spectrum.

– Political journalism consists of everyday stuff which loses its relevance with the arrival of next day’s newspaper in the market. Business journalism directly affects policy decisions at the highest level.

– Political journalism is all about gossip, which attracts perpetual bashers of the past and present governments. Business journalism interests those who run the economy, pay taxes, create jobs and are productive members of society.

– Political journalism is about overstating the helplessness of the public and the indifference of the ruling class. Business journalism is about entrepreneurship, success stories and organisational turnarounds.

In short, political journalism is both quick and easy; business journalism is neither.
Source: The Express Tribune
Date:8/22/2011