How the financial press has failed America

by
Dean Starkman

Laura Gottesdeiner of AlterNet.com interviewed Columbia Journalism Review‘s Dean Starkman about how the financial media has not done its job in recent years.

Here is an exscerpt:

LG: Still, sometimes it feels like mainstream media doesn’t only fail to investigate Wall Street’s crimes–they actually helped facilitate them. Is the business press itself an accomplice?

DS: The biggest problem during this period was this narrowing definition of what constitutes a business story. There are fights over what journalism is, and you can divide journalism into two great competing schools. One is the access school, and the other is the accountability school.

In the lead-up to 2006, the accountability school was increasingly marginalized and in retreat, while the access school–doing the profile and getting the scoop on deals–became much more prominent. And so the big missed story–the accountability story–was the radicalization of the financial system, particularly in mortgage lending and discussions of subprime and predatory lending.

Meanwhile, when I went back and reread some of the coverage by really good reporters from really good magazines, the coverage of Wall Street, even if it was well intended, actually helped to exacerbate the crisis and add flames to the frenzy. Things like positive profiles of Wall Street executives made things worse and made the world worse. Unwittingly maybe, but so what?

Read more here.