OLD Media Moves

SABEW urges SEC to limit subpoenas

March 8, 2006

The Society of American Business Editors and Writers issued a statement about the Securities and Exchange Commission’s subpoenas of three business journalists last month in regards to its investigation.

The statement reads, “The Society of American Business Editors and Writers, the nation’s largest trade group for financial journalists, salutes the effort by Chairman Christopher Cox of the Securities and Exchange Commission to clarify the terms under which his agency will serve subpoenas on a financial journalist in any SEC investigation unrelated to that journalist’s personal trading activities.

“As Cox noted after his staff served subpoenas on several reporters in recent weeks, financial journalism has routinely supported the agency’s own mission by alerting vulnerable investors to new dangers in the marketplace. Indeed, given the nature and pace of regulatory cases, such reporting by the media is often the first warning the public receives.

“For the SEC to undermine what its chairman views as a key ally simply as a shortcut to gathering information it can get in far less damaging ways is misguided and self-defeating.

“The U.S. Justice Department has long operated under guidelines that, while not perfect, have usually sustained a workable balance between the legitimate investigative needs of the government and the importance of a free and vigorous news media. That a similar road map was not already on the books at the SEC is unfortunate.

“The procedures the SEC is finally developing, however belatedly, are key to protecting the citizens that the press and government both serve.

“We await completion of this important work. We hope the final product recognizes — as fully as Chairman Cox does — the critical contribution that financial journalism makes to the integrity of the public markets.”

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