Annals of Compensation

There’s a Lot of Good Thinking Here Re. How Much Journalists Should Be Compensated for their Work. Except, Replace ‘Journalist’ with ‘IBanker’ and the Guy Suddenly Doesn’t Sound So Smart:

This, from Robert Picard writing on the electronic pages of the CS Monitor,

Why journalists deserve low pay
The demise of the news business can be halted, but only if journalists commit to creating real value for consumers and become more involved in setting the course of their companies.

is causing a bit of a stir, mostly because telling journalists that they’re overpaid hacks is always good for a kerfuffle. And its main point, that journalists will get paid more if they create more things that people are willing to be paid for is both valid and as obvious as Parcells’ observation that you are what your record says you are. And his solution—in an age when you’re competing globally, you’ve got to find your niche—isn’t exactly groundbreaking. But I’m more interested in Picard’s assertion that the only way to value journalism is to look at it in terms of the market—that is, journalism is only worth what people are willing to pay for it.

Moral philosophers differentiate intrinsic and instrumental value. Intrinsic value involves things that are good in and of themselves, such as beauty, truth, and harmony. Instrumental value comes from things that facilitate action and achievement, including awareness, belonging, and understanding. Journalism produces only instrumental value. It is important not in itself, but because it enlightens the public, supports social interaction, and facilitates democracy.

Economic value is rooted in worth and exchange. It is created when finished products and services have more value – as determined by consumers – than the sum of the value of their components.

Where this misses the point, though, is that it assumes the market is always correct in assigning value. This is the same reasoning that leads banks to pay staffers millions of real, actual dollars in compensation for (as we now know) imaginary value created. Value isn’t absolute; it’s tied to perception—you are what people think you are.

1 Comment on Annals of Compensation

  1. wery wery good.

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