OLD Media Moves

How business journalists missed the biggest story on their beat

December 19, 2008

Dean Starkman, who critiques the business media for Columbia Journalism Review, writes in the January/February issue of Mother Jones that business journalism missed warning readers about the current economic crisis.

Starkman writes, “Personality profiles, critical as they may be, are comfortably within the narrowing business-press discourse. Plus, they’re a lot easier, and less risky, than investigations — and it’s that part of business journalism that has been allowed to wither, says Katie Benner, a Fortune writer.

“‘It’s much easier to write a story saying something is a bubble than saying it’s a fraud,’ she notes. ‘If business-news organizations want to be taken seriously, they need to invest in investigative journalism.’

“Needless to say, charges for that look slim right now — but it is more than just a question of resources. Predatory lending happened in plain sight; it didn’t take a muckraker to see what was wrong.

“Yet business journalism kept its blinders on, played it safe, fixated on stock market concerns, and allowed its BS detector to atrophy just when it was needed most.”

No link is available. The January/February issue is not on the Mother Jones site yet.

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