OLD Media Moves

WSJ econ editor: Biz reporters failed

February 4, 2010

Wall Street Journal economics editor David Wessel spoke Wednesday to a group of business reporters at the newspaper’s office in midtown Manhattan, and he was critical of their performance in the past few years.

David Hechler of Corporate Counsel writes, “At times Wessel sounded more upbeat about the economy than he did about his profession. Even though many members of the audience were, like himself, former (and current) Knight-Bagehot fellows in business journalism at Columbia University. (The Knight-Bagehot alumni committee, along with Dow Jones, sponsored the talk.)

“‘We’re not covering sports. This is real life. It matters,’ he exhorted. Too often what passes for covering business is essentially keeping score — who won, who lost, whose stock was up. That’s not good enough, Wessel said. The country needs reporters who explain institutions like the Fed — what it does and why it matters. And very few publications seem interested and able to deliver.

“During the question-and-answer session, he resisted invitations to predict the future. He declined to guess what new regulations may be enacted, or to prescribe a package of recommendations. He did express surprise that the rating agencies, which were ‘a big part of the problem,’ have been roundly ignored. No congressional committee seems to be focused on them, he noted. After ticking off ways that the system could be restructured, Wessel said that he isn’t sure if any of them would really solve the problem.”

Read more here.

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