Joe Strupp of Editor & Publisher writes Tuesday that business editors at newspapers across the country believe they have done a good job at covering the mortgage crisis and warning readers before it hit.
Strupp wrote, “Chuck Hawkins, deputy business editor for the Associated Press — which provided such coverage for hundreds of newspapers — also defended past warning stories. ‘We did several stories early last year that raised red flags,’ he recalled.
“He also noted several events at the 2006 Society of American Business Editors and Writers conference that addressed the issue and how to cover it. ‘You had any number of stories mentioned at that meeting,’ Hawkins said. ‘The cautionary stories were being written.’
“Jim Henderson, managing editor/money at USA Today, also defended coverage. ‘We were writing stories on sub-primes and housing prices going up,’ he said. ‘Loans being made to people who were not credit worthy, particularly in 2004 and 2005.’
“But several editors admitted some of the elements of the story, such as the packaging of the loans for investors, was often complicated. ‘You could not figure out what was in it,’ Henderson says of the mortgage-back securities that led to the Bear Stearns collapse. ‘I’m not sure the mainstream press covered that. It was so institutional and at a highly sophisticated level.'”
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