OLD Media Moves

Biz journalists were not to blame

March 4, 2009

Duff McDonald, a contributing writer at New York and Conde Nast Portfolio, writes Wednesday for Slate that when it comes to doling out blame for the current economic crisis, business journalists should be way down on the list.

McDonald writes, “You know, speaking as a writer of business media, I am somewhat tired of the notion that we should have been writing in one voice against very specific things about which it was very difficult to know the intricate details. How were we to know the true extent of AIG’s credit-default swap exposure? The company’s 2005 10-K, for example, has two mentions of credit-default swaps, and they’re not exactly illuminating. Who was going to tell the curious reporter what the total possible downside was?

“I wish anybody the best of luck in prying that kind of information out of any public company that is not required to report it in detail. What’s more, every time something like this (e.g., dot-com bust, the collapse of Long-Term Capital Management, the credit debacle) has happened, there have been plenty of instances in which people did write penetrating and challenging stories on the potential problems of the day.

“Take Jesse, for God’s sake. Everyone knows that the man is actually incapable of an article consisting only of praise — he’s been Portfolio‘s chief alarm-raiser since Day 1.”

Read more here.

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