Former Disney CEO Bob Iger Comments On How To Fix The News Industry

Retirement certainly hasn’t slowed down former Disney CEO, Bob Iger!

Bob Iger ©Disney

Between things like writing another bookpotentially buying an NBA team, reporting on the weekly weather in Los Angeles, and joining the board of the metaverse tech company, Genies, Inc., he sure has been busy! And, though he’s made it clear that he has no plans to return to Disney in his post-retirement life, there’s potential that we could see Iger leading another kind of company in the future.

Recently, Iger appeared on the Apple TV+ show, The Problem with Jon Stewart where he sat down with Jon Stewart to answer the elusive question, “Can the news be fixed?” And, having supervised ABC News (which is part of the Disney company) in some capacity for 30+ years, he had some opinions to share.

©Apple TV+/The Problem With Jon Stewart

In the interview, Stewart began by bringing up the pressures that media outlets experience, particularly when it comes to ratings. Iger shared though, that he never led ABC News to focus on ratings. In fact, he said that his advice to them was to “not hear the noise as much” and “to continue doing the job that we’ve entrusted them to do which is to tell the truth, to state the facts, to present the news in an accurate, and a fair, and a timely basis.”

He also added that “We never sought to drive ratings or even bottom-line success at the sacrifice of what we considered to be quality.” Stewart urged, however, that while that may have been the greater discussion, news producers of each piece are usually “cognizant of the minute-to-minute ratings” and the executive producer of the show “will be cognizant of those” too.

Mickey's 90th TV Special on ABC

In discussing whether those ratings impact what stories news outlets choose to report on or how they choose to present the news story, Iger said “I would argue that there are stories that are not told because there’s a belief that people aren’t interested in them. I don’t think there are stories that are told inaccurately just to make them more interesting to people.”

Bob Iger at Mickey’s 90th Spectacular

So, what’s to blame for the lack of trust in the news? Iger thinks that it has to do with social media and the sheer amount of news sources out there nowadays. He stated that “It starts with technology enabling an explosion of programming, which includes news and information. And with that, I believe, has come a dilution in quality. “

And, when it comes to social media specifically, Iger notes that when you look at “what is presented on news” on these platforms, “you can immediately conclude that a lot of what is presented…is not news as certainly we knew it when we were growing up and what we were taught news should be. So I think what people believe is news is really opinion. And opinion is very different, opinion is a bias.”

Bob Iger ©Disney

Stewart and Iger went on to discuss news stories that may have been “over-hyped” including things like the U.S.’s withdrawal of armed forces from Afghanistan and the political polarization of mask-wearing in the COVID-19 era. And, while Iger felt that Stewart was being “too critical,” he did say that “Just as news has the power to do good, it has the power to do bad.”

Bob Chapek and Bob Iger at Disney World’s 50th Anniversary Dedication

Rather than things being “over-hyped,” Iger notes that news sources must be managed responsibly — something that not all of them do. He said, “People are not as held accountable for inaccuracies, so there’s that issue. And, then there’s the whole issue of profiting from…opinion and from presenting things in an inaccurate fashion.”

For example, Iger noted that former chairman and CEO of Fox News (Roger Ailes) thought “there was a business in being biased” which caused other organizations to pivot “in another direction as a countermeasure to what he was doing” — something he felt was a “huge mistake.”

Bob Iger ©Disney

The solution to the problem? Well, Stewart asked Iger whether he thought it would be possible to create a profitable news organization that could “cut through the noise” — which Iger has thought a lot about as it turns out!

Iger noted that he didn’t think that there was a way to do this in the current media climate so instead “You’d have to start completely from scratch” to “erase perceptions that have been created over time” and then “populate it with people with incredible credibility, and responsibility, and accountability.”

©Apple TV+/The Problem With Jon Stewart

So, could we someday see Iger spearheading an initiative like this? Stewart (somewhat jokingly) asked if he would ever consider operating a news organization like he described to which Iger responded by saying that it wasn’t the first time he’s been asked that. But, he’s been hesitant to say yes because he’s not sure that it would be “practical or effective.”

You can watch the full interview below!

Well, it seems that CEO of a groundbreaking news organization won’t be something that Iger will be adding to his resume (at least for now), but we’ll be on the lookout for all the other initiatives and responsibilities that he takes on!

And, in the meantime, be sure to stay tuned to AllEars for more of the latest Disney news and updates!

Learn More About Iger’s Next Business Venture HERE!

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One Reply to “Former Disney CEO Bob Iger Comments On How To Fix The News Industry”

  1. I wish Mr. Iger’s statement, “We never sought to drive ratings or even bottom-line success at the sacrifice of what we considered to be quality.”, still aplies at Disney.