OLD Media Moves

Access to sources and biz reporters

November 20, 2008

Dean Starkman of Columbia Journalism Review writes about the issue of access to sources in business journalism, a problem he says is shown in the New York Times story by Geraldine Fabrikant about ousted Citigroup executive Sallie Krawcheck.

The story contained references to people close to Krawcheck and her thinking, without every quoting her.

Starkman writes, “Now, I can’t prove it, but it’s my sense that the public-relations operatives have become more empowered in recent years, as business-news organizations have shriveled financially and competition for business news has, paradoxically, increased.

“Productivity demands on reporters have increased — that hamster wheel is spinning like mad — leaving less time and appetite in newsrooms for sticky, time-consuming confrontation. Meanwhile, experience levels in newsroom have dropped, and investigations are left in the hands of a shrinking elite.

“One suspects, further, that news cultures have been affected. The tradeoff between access and arms-length scrutiny — that never-easy balancing act — has gotten out of whack. News organizations are conceding more to sources and getting less, in some cases, much less.”

Read more here.

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