Sunday, February 25, 2007

KFC and Irresponsible Journalism

By now, most people across the country would seem to be aware of the existence of a rat infested KFC restaurant in Greenwich Village. The story provides another example of media coverage that values sensationalism over substance. In this instance, major media have crossed the line into irresponsibility.

The story is that video cameras caught footage of numerous rats roaming an empty but dirty restaurant in New York. Somehow, the story of that local restaurant has caused reporters to question whether the national parent company's stock will fall. One local television station in the city where The Oracle is visiting this weekend even sent its reporter to stand in front of local restaurants, thus needlessly impugning eateries that had nothing to do with the story.

The Oracle has occasionally in the past read the health inspection reports in The Tennessean to see if any of the places he frequents have had problems. However, if a KFC in Belle Meade fails to pass inspection, that would not prevent The Oracle from eating at one in Antioch. What is going on in Greenwich Village certainly is not relevant, unless some enterprising reporter wishes to show a national management problem unique to this company.

Some have tried to relate this story to the e coli concern of last month, but that is a totally different matter. Because the distribution of tainted food could have spread to multiple restaurants, that created legitimate concerns about food across the restaurant chain.

If Yum Brand's stock drops, it will be the result of a media generated frenzy. The reporting in this instance has not been criminal, but it is thoroughly lacking in responsibility.

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