Since this blog frequently addresses the topics of accountability, leadership, media, and CEO practices I thought I’d take this opportunity to use recent events in the media to rant about all of the above.

Does anyone remember the days when the media actually took responsibility for the content it chose to air to the public? Many would say the media has always pushed the envelope in terms of balancing what they could get away with and public outrage with the economic benefits associated with increased ratings and market share.

While this is no doubt true to some extent, it is this author’s opinion that things have deteriorated so far in recent years that you have to really work hard to find good guys in the media these days. In today’s post, I’ll share my perspective on what needs to happen to bring the media back to reality…

Let me begin by saying that my intention is not to come off as sounding harsh, judgmental, or out of touch with the times. However, sometimes it is simply necessary to take a public stand on issues of importance regardless of the popularity of the position being taken. My frustration with the media lies in the fact that there is so much potential for not only great entertainment but also for tremendous social and philanthropic accomplishments that are in my opinion currently being lost in the quagmire and muck that represents the status quo.

You really have to turn back the clock to the 1950s in order to find newspapers, television networks, film studios, and radio stations that exercised common sense practiced accountability, and actually even cared about what was fed to the public at large. I can remember Elvis Presley’s television debut on the Ed Sullivan show where Elvis was only filmed from the waist up. Walt Disney would roll over in his grave if he viewed some of the things that Michael Eisner and Robert Iger have allowed to find their way off the cutting room floor at the Walt Disney Company. Don’t even get me started about the blurring of lines (or perhaps more accurately the removal of lines) between editorial and news content. I long for the days when I could turn on the television, go see a movie, listen to the radio, read a magazine or newspaper, view my e-mail, or surf the web without getting ambushed by content that leaves me feeling violated and offended. Am I really crazy or is it just me?

Okay, I readily admit that some would say I’m living in the Stone Age and then they would go on to say what we’re experiencing in the media today actually constitutes progress. However, I couldn’t disagree more and unless your definition of progress is contributing to the moral decay of our society then it is time to speak out and say enough is enough…So, the 64,000 dollar question remains how can we reclaim control over the runaway freight train that is today’s media empire? While I wish there was an easy fix, there is not…however change can be brought about if those that care (which I choose to believe is still the majority) unite and become louder and more aggressive in the defense of their beliefs than the ever so vocal minority that has taken control of our news and entertainment content. Following are my suggestions for holding the media accountable for their inappropriate actions or inaction as the case may be:

  • Vote with your wallet: Don’t spend your hard-earned money on garbage. You do have a choice and if you choose wisely it will hit the media industry in the only area they really care about…the bottom line. In time they will change policies on programming, editorial, and distribution choices that will bring about a change that will provide a more healthy alternative for our children and grandchildren.
  • Vote with your investments: I don’t own a single entertainment or media stock and my portfolio will remain void of the same until I begin to see changes. Invest your money in companies that make our world a better place to live rather than companies that contribute to its decline.
  • Vote with your pen and keyboard: Today’s post is an example of how to make your feelings known…Blog, write e-mails and letters, and make phone calls to voice your opinion. By communicating with corporate executives, the media, and politicians you step out of the shadow of apathy and begin to create a voice for change.
  • Vote with your vote: Don’t get caught up in being politically correct and looking cool. Rather look at the candidates, issues, and legislation to determine whether or not they support your beliefs and values. Don’t cast a vote not aligned with your value system.

I’m not nearly as frustrated with the vulgarity of Don Imus or Howard Stern or by the treasonous propaganda of Rosie O’Donnell as I am absolutely furious with the network executives that provide them with a platform to leverage…As some of you saw MSNBC made the decision to suspend the Don Imus radio show for two weeks based upon the racist comments he voiced on air last week. This is nothing more than a nifty lulling tactic by MSNBC in an attempt to let the public outrage cool down and the storm passes so they can place him back on the air again. He should not be suspended, rather he should be fired as should Rosy O’Donnell and Howard Stern.

Corporate CEOs need to develop a backbone and do the right thing by building their company’s revenues and profit-based upon quality content and sound decisioning. Why has Girls Gone Wild been allowed to run pornographic infomercials on TV for so long? Perhaps the fact that Joe Francis the producer of the show was recently arrested on charges of racketeering, drug possession, prostitution, and sexual exploitation might cause them to do the right thing and take the ads off of TV, but I doubt it…Don’t the networks or advertisers care about the safety of our young women? Here is a message to media CEOs…Don’t tell me…show me! I’ve had enough of the platitudes, the pontification, the spin, and the overall lack of substance by those CEOs who so easily talk the talk, but fail to walk the walk. Just do the right thing…