Starkman on the biz beat's culpability

Dean Starkman, a one-time ace scribe on Fountain Street, has an early post-mortem on the role played by the business press in our current fiscal crisis.

Some excerpts:

For the business press, there are only two options when considering what has happened here, neither particularly good. Either the business press institutionally provided appropriate arms-length scrutiny of the financial-services industry, including investigative work, opinion, analysis and rigorous beat reporting that provided decision-makers, including readers, with fair warnings of the coming collapse, and it was ignored, or it didn’t do the work in the first place. We know that the answer is some combination of the two. But, if we accept the foregoing logic, then best case for the business media is that what it writes doesn’t matter, in which case, why bother?

4. As journalists, we have to believe journalism matters. Therefore, there is a high probability here of journalistic failure.

5. The current generation of business reporters is probably the best-educated and most sophisticated ever. Everyone knows it entirely capable of providing the needed scrutiny and requisite skepticism, if properly directed. So it seems we have a leadership problem.

6. That said, it is undoubtedly true that the ranks of business journalism have been thinned of its most experienced hands due to the media’s financial troubles, and investigative reporting has become the domain of a surprisingly small elite. There has been a price paid for this. Again, this is an issue for business media leadership.

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