As I was reading the sports section with my breakfast this morning, a couple of articles caught my attention. How they were written and how the topics were covered popped a business thought into my head and I’d like to share it.
If you’ve ever read the screed before, it’s no secret to you that I am sort of obsessed with golf. Naturally, I read the reports of the weekend’s events. The men’s tour was near Washington, DC., and the man winning the tournament was a bit of a surprise. He was a first-time winner, has an interesting back story, and fought off some of the best players on the Tour for the win. 80% of the article, however, had nothing to do with him. It was all about Tiger Woods, currently ranked #266 in the world, and a blow-by-blow of his rounds. We got none of that about the winner. I get it: Tiger’s performance, or lack thereof of late, is always THE story in golf. More about this in a second.
On the women’s side, the Women’s British Open was won by Inbee Park, who completed the career grand slam (winning every major at least once) at the ripe old age of 27. It has only been done a handful of times previously. The story received all of maybe a hundred words.
The article about the men’s tour was half a page, and the focus was not on the real news. After all, many other players finished ahead of Tiger or scored as well. The biggest golf news of the weekend was that one woman, who has captured six of the last fourteen majors the women have played, won again. My point isn’t that the women aren’t getting any respect either.
The business point is that we must always remember that when we get news and information from any source, it is generally filtered to reflect someone’s point of view. The editors decided Tiger’s ok weekend is more interesting than a first-time win or a huge achievement by a woman. You may be getting weekly reports of sales, opportunities, personnel, etc. that bury the real story. It’s incumbent on us as businesspeople to ask questions about everything we read. Is this research biased? What’s the self-interest of someone who shares some news? What isn’t in a report I’m reading?
The information we get is only as good as the editor chooses to make it. Giving a ton of golf coverage to a guy who finished in a tie for 18th may distract you from the real story. In business, our job is to find those stories and edit them into the narrative. Agreed?