OLD Media Moves

SEC commissioner backs off biz journalists

March 7, 2006

SABEW President Jon Lansner, who is also a business columnist with the Orange County Register, spoke with SEC chairman Christopher Cox on Monday about the recent brouhaha surrounding the regulatory body’s subpoenas of business journalists for one of its investigations.

Lansner’s conclusion is that business journalists should not be worried; Cox does understand the role that business journalism plays as a watchdog on corporate America and the stock market.

Jon LansnerWrote Lansner: “It’s always scary in a society that cherishes an independent press when regulators or other law-enforcement officials pursue reporters and their work as part of a government probe.

“The sources that help reporters find corporate villains might not be very candid if they feared journalists’ records could become government fodder one day.

“Unfortunately for Cox, he learned his agency was subpoenaing reporters for their work from news reports.”

Later, Lansner adds, “And I’m betting after my chat with Cox, new SEC rules will highly discourage such searches that target the financial press.

“Cox told me that fresh subpoena guidelines will ‘almost certainly spell out that the federal government should pursue information in the course of law-enforcement work through other means whenever possible.’

“I’m thrilled because Cox is willing to say that the financial press adds value to investors by enhancing their ability to watch the markets. Cox’s seven months at the SEC have been highlighted by his push to get more corporate data to investors – including plans to publicize additional salary and benefit details from company executives.”

Read Lansner’s column here.

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