And yet, although they may like the business and the people, CPA’s can’t get too close. Accountants’ principal duty is to the shareholders, lenders, and anyone else who reads the financial statements. There may come a time when auditors must disclose information that will damage the stock price. They have to make a choice between their client and their responsibility to the public. There is no question what they are expected to do.
Keeping their distance and independence is a must for CPA’s if they are to maintain trust and a reputation for integrity. Some accountants violated that trust during the go-go tech boom and Enron / Worldcom scandals. In order to save the profession, accountants had to reassert the guiding principles of independence and integrity. You don’t see auditors standing up and cheering at shareholders meetings.
In my idealistic youth I thought about a career in journalism. Woodward and Bernstein (of Watergate fame) were my heroes. They pursued a story that brought down an administration. Yet they didn’t make up facts; if information could not be verified, they left it out.
Today the profession of news journalism has lost its way. Opinion has leaked beyond the editorial pages to the rest of the newspaper. “Newsmen” publish unconfirmed rumors that support their stances and ignore inconvenient facts that don’t. Outside the office, they openly display their political preferences; there’s no attempt to maintain even the appearance of objectivity.
Yet when Obama emerged from a curtain on stage, the audience of more than 2,000 [minority journalists] bolted to its feet, cheered and whistled. His remarks drew repeated applause throughout the 30-minute broadcast, which CNN and Time Inc. sponsored.Reporters, if you want to be an advocate, do both yourself and journalism a favor. Leave. Go to Madison Avenue. The pay’s better.
© 2008 Stephen Yuen
[Update 9/21 - a quiet Sunday morning, then Instalanche! Welcome, everyone.]