OLD Media Moves

Missing the credit card story

March 14, 2008

Dean Starkman of Columbia Journalism Review writes how the traditional business press wrote traditional stories about the credit card industry while more important stories were being uncovered by non-traditional outlets.

Credit cardsStarkman wrote, “These non-business-press sources place their credit-card story within a broader context, that of a besieged American middle class caught in an iron vice of stagnating incomes; shrinking disposable income; rising costs for health care, housing, and education; the aforementioned usurious and rapacious practices of the credit-card industry; a growing, consolidating, and increasingly sophisticated debt-collection industry; and, to add insult to injury, a new bankruptcy law that closes the courthouse door to formerly eligible debtors.

“This narrative, as we will see, is fully supported by credible anecdotal and aggregate data and happens also to be true.

“The business press did not ignore these major shifts in the credit-card industry over the years and actually did several fine stories that documented the changing relationship between the industry and its customers. But those stories were all but unavoidable for business publications under the circumstances and did not come close to reflecting the dramatic reordering of a marketplace. With notable and important exceptions, financial publications as a whole stuck to their usual formula of chronicling the (stellar) financial performance, strategies, and intramural competition of corporate actors and of profiling their leaders.”

Read more here.

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