Were business reporters asleep at the switch when it came to covering the financial industry over the last few years? NewsHour posted video late this afternoon of a forum held by the business press a few months ago in Denver.
Larry Ingrassia of The New York Times said maybe the readers were asleep, "but the New York Times definitely wasn't." But most of the people in the video appeared to disagree.
In an assessment of the panel in a Colorado Independent story last month veteran TV journalist Allan Dodds Frank blamed an old reportorial whipping boy: editors.
"Fannie and Freddie were not covered on TV because there's no visual," he said.
Most of the corporate owned media that I've been exposed to is not aggressive in pursuit of stories that are hard-hitting or controversial. It's risky from a business perspective to go around making "trouble" for other business owners by revealing their errors or questioning their business ethics. Being part of a big company means that you are under subtle but relentless pressure to get along by going along.
The public was not interested in the risks and to this day doesn't understand why the financial industry collapsed. We are a nation of sound bite consumers with miniscule attention spans. A bunch of cranky NYT reporters can be dead on in both content and delivery and nobody gives a damn.
It's long past time to expect newspapers (dinosaurs of the media age) to actually investigate wrongdoing. They don't have the resources or the will to carry out such a task. We don't have a common sense of purpose or reference to large media outlets now-a-daze. It's just another cheap commodity edited by offshore ESL staff.
One problem is the "cozy" relationships and I see it already in the "new" media too, especially that with a point of view. If they cover someone regularly, they don't want to alienate that person from talking to them, so they go lighter, or they don't ask the question at all.
I don't know that that's a corporate media thing at all. I think it's a matter of having so few sources, that you don't want to alienate one of them by asking a tough question.
I had a guy that was mad at me last week because he didn't like the way I wrote something. So i got the usual "you're a lousy journalist " (there was no disagreemtn on whether what I wrote was true; it was.) stuff ... blah blah blah.
I suppose it would've intimidated me if I needed him to do my job. But I don't.
But a lot of people who work "beats" have that scenario.