Mark Cuban and I share an intense dislike for anyone who defends a corporate policy by saying, “That’s the way we’ve always done it.” He blogs,
“Could there ever be a worse reason for doing something. Do it because it’s the right thing. Do it because it’s the only thing. Do it because it’s all you know how to do or because it’s all you can afford. But please, don’t do it because it’s the way you have always done it.”
He uses this as a launch point for some on-the-money remarks about reporting box office numbers, sports attendance figures, and celebrity salaries.
The latter is another pet peeve of mine. Whenever I’ve signed a nice new contract at a radio station and the local media writer has deemed it important enough to mention in the newspaper, they always want to know how much money I’ll be making under my new deal. I never tell them — in fact, I insist on a clause in my contract that forbids either me or the radio station from revealing that information publicly — because it’s none of their business. More than once, when the reporter has pressed me on this matter, I offered to allow them to print my salary on the condition that they also print their own salary plus those of their editors. This seems to bring the point home, so none has taken me up on this offer thus far.
Similarly, I don’t care how much a celebrity makes for starring in a movie, or how much an athlete makes for throwing/catching/hitting a ball, anymore than I care how much the chef at my favorite steakhouse takes home in a year. In all of our cases, it has no relation to our consumers, and anyone who makes their entertainment decisions based on that information is way off base. It’s the product that matters, not the finances — unless you’re the one signing the checks, in which case both are a factor.
So why do reporters and entertainment media insist on pursuing this line of questioning? Because that’s the way they’ve always done it.