The Surprise in Our Olympics Coverage
Managing Editor, CNBC.com
One of the more unfortunate tendencies in business journalism is its constant effort to horn in on non-business events.
The Money behind Oscar ... The Business of American Idol ... Superbowl, Superbucks. Given the right time and buzz, you can find such headlines on any business news site -- us included.
Sure, there's sometimes a legitimate money angle associated with such events. An Oscar win generally gives a movie a 15 percent bump in box office returns, for example. But such points are, more often than not, an excuse to dive into whatever hype is consuming the American public at the time. And it gets overblown for a business news site. (With that Oscar angle, for example, do I really need a slideshow of all the movie nominees?)
Truth be told as an editor, you don't want all those hyped-up readers passing you by. Like 10,000 Maniacs says, "Give 'em What They Want."
But sometimes my cynicism gets a spanking. I thought our Olympics coverage would end up being like the Oscar example above. Some legitimate money points here and there, but basically business journalism horning in on a non-business event (albeit one intertwined with our corporate mothership).
The CNBC team over there proved me wrong. Over the past couple of weeks, we had more information about black tape, Speedo, and shoe economics than I ever thought possible. And some deep dives on the corporate dancing behind sponsorships and endorsements. And if I were allowed to invest in individual stocks, I'd be exploring some sporting ideas right now.
In short, our coverage was much more useful and interesting than I expected it to be. Instead of a cursory look at sports and money, it turned into an in-depth lesson about the business tentacles running through world's biggest sporting event.
I'll probably get some ire from some corporate overlords for being that honest. And I'll get some flame mail from editor-wannabees pointing out it's my job to make the coverage good in the first place (not easy to do with assets half-way round the world).
But I'm being honest about my expectations, and I'm being honest about tipping the hat to the work of Darren Rovell, Carl Quintanilla, CNBC.com's Wei Du, and the rest of the CNBC China team. Check out all their work here.
I'll get back to planning that "Oscar and Money" special report now.