Final Perk

Article from Issue 143/2012

News of Google’s employee survival benefit surfaced recently, much to the amazement of bloggers, who were all out on the prowl for some tech news. In an interview with Forbes Magazine’s Meghan Casserly, Google Chief People Officer Lazlo Bock spelled out the terms. If a Google employee dies, the company will give a surviving spouse or domestic partner half the employee’s salary for up to 10 years.

Various commentators have referred to this policy as “Impressive,” “Awesome,” “Admirable.” Another Forbes contributor called it “awe inspiring.” Although Google should certainly be commended for offering this benefit, I wonder sometimes about the way news gets passed around in our high-velocity, zero-friction Internet economy. Lofty adjectives are fast and evocative, but numbers talk. I worry that what we call “news” today is little more than a patter of glorified re-tweets that get passed through the industry without anything close to the level of pre-press scrutiny they would have received 10 years ago.

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