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Remember: Journalists Often Know Little About Business


Students often assume journalists for well-known media news sites must be knowledgeable about the topics they report.

They often are not. After all, many of them have degrees in journalism–not in physics, or finance, or engineering, or any of the disciplines used in most of the value-creating sectors of the economy.

Here’s a great example:

Julian Arenzon of the New York Daily news reports on a 47-story building that’s almost completed, expect for one small problem:

In what will surely go down in history as one the greatest architectural blunders, the town of Benidorm in Alicante, Spain, had almost completed its 47-story skyscraper when it realized it excluded plans for elevator shafts.

The story is almost completely wrong. There are elevators in the building. Here’s what the source that apparently broke the story said:

In January 2012, there was a new surprise: the elevator shaft had not been taken into account, as the promotional designs clearly show. “The space was calculated for a 20-storey building,” said the same sources. Then, in May, the architects directing the project resigned. They have declined to comment on the case.

That just means the the apartment space was calculated and sold without taking into account the additional space taken up by more elevator shafts when the plans changed to increase the height of the building.

Anyone with the most rudimentary knowledge of how buildings are build would know how implausible it would be for a construction firm to build a 47-story building almost to completion and then realize “no elevators!”

The moral of the story: journalists often know ridiculously little about industry of any kind, they write with childlike naivety, and easily misinterpret their sources because of this.

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