Wednesday, 4 January 2012

Exec pay, and keeping it really simple, stupid

I blogged before xmas about some pretty crappy reporting about the Coalition's plans on executive pay - namely the unsubstantiated claim that Nick Clegg supported putting employees on rem comms.

Well there's another less than illuminating piece in the FT today on the same subject. As far as I can tell the story consists of news that David Cameron is really bloomin cross about high pay. What's more the Government is looking at a range of options - "nothing is off the table" apparently - and these include, err, some of the options that were in the BIS consultation on, err, exec pay.

So to sum up, the Government wants to do something on exec pay, and it might do some of things that are in the consultation on exec pay, which it launched when it first said it wanted to do something on exec pay. Really, there isn't much there. This looks like the sort of reannouncing of existing initiatives that Labour got away with for a bit but then journos started to loath. I'm surprised the FT went for it.

It's stuff like this that could turn me into a grumpy old man moaning about dumbing down. Coincidentally, it sort of meshes too with this piece in the Economist (hat-tip Mehdi Hasan on Twitter) about media reporting and narratives in the race for the Republican nomination.
the analysis strips away the fiction that the media are a neutral communications channel between candidates and voters, and turns attention towards the real influence that the media's natural biases—the bias towards surprise, the bias towards cliched sentimental background stories, the bias against sophistication or complexity, etc
A bias against complexity seems to be punching me in the face every time I watch telly at the moment. I know I'm a bit of a geek about some of this stuff, but I genuinely believe that the average punter could probably grasp the general arguments around executive pay, and some of the pros and cons of the ideas being considered. Instead the lead off is angry Dave and the policy content is restricted to a Nick Robinson-esque* "they might do this, they might do that", laid on the top like a bit of tinsel, rather than being the main focus.

Bah humbug.

*Incidentally, if you want to see some quality 'virtually content free' news, check out Nick's post on the negotiations over public sector pensions. He essentially said 'the unions are talking to the govt about pensions', plus a bit of 'one side may have the advantage, but so might the other'.

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