Mark Cuban, the owner of the Dallas Mavericks who is the investor behind the new investigative business journalism Web site ShareSleuth.com, defended on his blog today the concept of investing in the stocks that are written about on the site before the articles are published.
Cuban wrote, “You may not like that I will trade on information we uncover and then publish it. I think reporting what we find is better than not reporting it. If we can uncover fraud. That’s a good thing. That profiting on the information we find is the smart thing to do. It beats the hell out of trying to remake the site every year to maximize advertising or subscriptions. It changes the newsenomics, which need to be changed.”
Cuban, and everyone else writing about this topic, is assuming that the articles posted on the Web site, which will be run by former St. Lous Post-Dispatch business reporter Christopher Carey, will cause the stock prices of the companies mentioned to rise or fall the way Cuban has invested in them. Remember, investing is no sure thing. He could lose money on these investments, although if the stories are really damning, and Cuban has shorted the stocks mentioned, then he could likely rake it in. That is, if the Web site has any readership on Wall Street.
Still, former BusinessWeek reporter Gary Weiss doesn’t like Cuban’s defense. Weiss wrote, “Hey, the guy has got to do the right thing — particularly when it means getting some nice juicy info not generally known to the public, and obtained by his reporters from people who may not be aware that they’re helping some billionaire get even richer.
“And I thought Cuban aimed to make a buck by throwing the basic ethical principles of investigative reporting (and reporting generally) out the window! How stupid of me. All the time he wanted to take a principled, moral stance, like Gandhi or Oskar Schindler.”