OLD Media Moves

CJR's Starkman, Chittum remember Bloomberg's Mark Pittman

December 1, 2009

Dean Starkman and Ryan Chittum of Columbia Journalism Review write Tuesday about Bloomberg reporter Mark Pittman, who recently died, and what he meant to the profession.

Starkman writes, “But for me, the thing that needs to be remembered, especially by financial journalists and the people who rely on them, is that Pittman represented an attitude, a feeling. It was the attitude that drove the journalism and, for me, defined the man.”

Later, Starkman added, “I will miss him. And we’ll never know what he would have done as he continued to work on the story he predicted he would retire on.

“Pittman combined a high level of sophistication about the financial system with the attitude — the bad attitude — of a great cop reporter. Many reporters are sophisticated; a few are passionate. Pittman had the attitude and the data.

“It has been said that he is irreplaceable. We can only hope that this is not true.”

Chittum adds, “It’s easy to get ground down in journalism. You get nicked here and there by the bad bosses, the bureaucrats, the daily grind of deadlines, the layoffs or threat of them, until it’s easy to lose the hunger that brought you into the business as a young reporter. Lots of folks flame out about the time they get their first mortgage.

“I doubt Mark ever felt any of this. He had fire; he had guts. He was six foot four and self-assured. Not smug—fearless.

“He reminded me why I wanted to be a journalist in the first place. He had boundless enthusiasm for smash-mouth reporting. He wanted to find out what was wrong and to name names—and he went after the biggest stories and the most powerful institutions. Goldman Sachs? Why not? The Fed? Who the hell else?.

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