TheDeal.com executive editor Yvette Kantrow assesses the influence that bloggers have had on financial journalism because they report rumors given to them by their readers before reporting has had a chance to verify the facts.
Kantrow wrote, “Witness reports last week about Credit Suisse Group’s plans to lay off staff in its mortgage-backed securities unit. DealBreaker.com carried an item late Tuesday about rumors that the firm was about to ax up to 400 people, though it noted that it had ‘strong reason’ to believe the number was lower than that. About an hour later, DealBreaker informed its readers that it was ‘sending a reporter over there to see what’s up.’ A half hour after that, DealBreaker said it was basically done for the day and directed its readers to ‘Check comments below for additional rumor-mongering.’
“Indeed, more than a few anonymous commentators weighed in on what they heard or believed was going on, from cuts being made across all of structured finance to layoffs being limited to leveraged finance and numbering about 250. Reading the posts is like getting your hands on a reporter’s raw notes without being given any additional information. It’s up to the reader to decide what makes sense and what doesn’t, even though that poor soul, unlike a reporter, has no idea of the credibility of each source.
“One DealBreaker commentator, however, directed readers to an item on The New York Times’ DealBook Web site that said Credit Suisse was laying off 150 people in its mortgage-backed securities unit, sourced to ‘a person with knowledge of the matter.’ The DealBook report was confirmed the next day by an announcement from Credit Suisse, earning the Times credit from other media outlets with breaking the news. On its own site, however, DealBook tipped its hat to DealBreaker for first reporting the speculation the day before.”
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