OLD Media Moves

New SEC chair Schapiro says she respects work of biz journalists

April 27, 2009


New Securities and Exchange Commission chairwoman Mary Schapiro said Monday that she respects the work of business journalists, but she stopped short of saying her organization would not subpoena business journalists for an investigation.

“It’s a very hard question,” said Schapiro at the annual conference of the Society of American Business Editors and Writers. “The SEC has very deep respect for journalists to protect their sources.”

While Schapiro said that regulators often look to business news coverage for signs of financial fraud, she said that the agency has procedures and processes in place when the issue of whether to subpoena a business journalist comes up.

In her three months as head of the SEC, she said, she hasn’t confronted a situation where she needed to review such subpoena request.

The issue of subpoenas and business journalists came to the forefront in 2006 when the SEC issued subpoenas to a number of prominent business journalists, including Marketwatch columnist Herb Greenberg, as part of an investigation. The SEC was chaired by Christopher Cox at that time. No subpoenas to business journalists have been issued since then.

Those subpoenas were then withdrawn after criticism.

“Through your reporting and writing, you make American’s smarter,” Schapiro said Monday at lunch to approximately 150 business journalists. “And that makes the SEC’s job easier.”

When asked about other business journalism-related issues, Schapiro said she favored greater and broader disclosure by companies as part of Regulation Fair Disclosure. And she said that it was essential at helping business journalists connect the dots between what was happening on Wall Street and Main Street.

“Nobody was very effectively connecting the dots,” said Schapiro. “It’s incredibly important for us to have a broader view.”

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