Wednesday, October 18, 2006

Contract With the Media

You know what we hate? No, not greedy CEOs or incurious boards. What we really can’t stand are clever financial journalists who obviously have some clue what’s going on around here.

How’s a blogger supposed to keep her readers two steps ahead of the mainstream business media and – more crucially – get to feel like a smug smartass, when writers at the Wall Street Journal start acting like overachieving honor students?

We became severely depressed yesterday when we stumbled on this WSJ article by Charles Forelle and Mark Maremont about William McGuire, who’s about to be tossed from his CEO post at UnitedHealth Group, Inc. (UNH) for stock options backdating. Instead of just dazzling readers with the numbers – there’s a possibility here for a billion dollars in walkaway goodies – the piece parses the guy’s employment agreement, noting that it "takes a fairly restrictive view of what constitutes grounds for firing: in effect, either a felony conviction or repeated failure to remedy a serious problem despite repeated notices demanding that he clean it up."

Could the reporters be reading this very blog, where we’ve recently been ranting about this very subject? (Here and here and, with a slight twist, here.) Naah, no way. It's far more likely that the skull-shattering magnitude of McGuire’s impending reward blasted them into a parallel universe where newspaper journalists (a) are contract-reading geeks and (b) have a lot of time on their hands.

What I’m really saying is: Kudos to you, Wall Street Journal reporters! Well done! Sigh. Now if you’ll excuse me, I have a contract with the bottom of a vodka bottle.