fortunemag1.jpgFortune magazine cover: “The 100 Best Companies To Work For”

One assumes that the list splashed across the cover was complied by Fortune’s staff, its top-notch, experienced investigative journalists, its dedicated, independent researchers. One would be wrong, according to the March/April issue of the esteemed Columbia Journalism Review.

Rather the list is complied by an outfit known as Great Place to Work Institute, which (surprise) also offers paid consulting services to corporations on how to become a “Great Place to Work.” They’ve even trademarked the phrase!

Is it just me, or do I sense a conflict of interest here?

And making the list is no great shakes either. Evidently you have to “apply” (that sure cuts down on the investigative work) and only 353 companies applied. So instead of being an exhaustive search of tens of thousands of workplaces, it turns out this list is really just a bunch of PR hype.

The Columbia Journalism Review article pointed out several inaccuracies, small and large, in the glowing descriptions of the companies “featured.”

I’ve got to say my opinion of and faith in Fortune magazine has taken a nose dive. I thought I was a pretty savvy guy but this level of “product placement” in a supposedly professional publication caught me off guard.