Ken Lewis is no longer chairman and CEO of Bank of America. He’s just CEO. The board stripped him of the chairman title because, well, the company’s gone to hell on his watch. What I would most like to ask him is, which does he regret more, buying Merrill Lynch, or losing his title?
People seem to like a nice title. The corporate world, for instance, has lots and lots of vice presidents. It’s so much cheaper to give someone a nice title than it is to give them a raise.
I’ve been thinking of titles since I heard some new ones this week. As the Tribune Company brings the Courant and Channel 61 together, they’ve brought in a new guy to oversee the operation, and they call him “Senior Vice President and Director of Content.” I assume it’s better to be a senior vice president than just a regular vice president. As for the “Director of Content” part of the title, all I can say is that the word “content” is very popular these days as the old media tries to sound not old.
The editor of the Courant is now called the “Print Platform Manager.” And the news director of Channel 61 is now called the “Broadcast Platform Manager.”
Which really makes me wonder whether there’s a “Vice President in Charge of Titles.” Someone who actually makes up titles. Like “Platform Manager.” (Although that duty may fall to the Tribune Company’s “Chief Innovation Officer,” who happens to be an old radio guy.)
I face the title issue only when I emcee something, and I’m asked what I’d like under my name in the program. My standard response is, “NBC 30 will be fine.” “Well, wouldn’t you like NBC 30 Anchor?” “Sure, fine.” “How about NBC 30 Anchor/Reporter?” “Really, whatever you want.” “No, you make the call. It’s your name.” “OK then. Go with Queen of England.”
Now that’s a title.