Tag Archives: Awards

Forbes, Wall Street Journal win Overseas Press Club awards

by

Forbes and The Wall Street Journal were the winners in the business journalism categories of the Overseas Press Club’s annual awards, which were announced on Thursday.

The Morton Frank Award for best business reporting from abroad in magazines went to Megha Bahree of Forbes for “India’s Dirty War.” The article detailed a violent struggle over resource-rich land is pitting billionaires against Maoists. Thousands of villagers have been killed and displaced.

Bahree left Forbes in February to work for The Journal, where she covers India. She also worked for Reuters. While at Forbes, she covered Hurricane Katrina reconstruction efforts, the impact of technology, and the impacts of globalization domestically and abroad.

The Malcolm Forbes Award for best business reporting from abroad in newspapers or news services went to Andrew Browne, Jason Dean, James T. Areddy, Norihiko Shirouzu, Shai Oster, Jeremy Page, and Paul Glader of The Journal for “Chinese Rules.”

See all of the winners here.

WSJ, AP both should have won Pulitzer for oil spill coverage

by

Joel Achenbach of the Washington Post writes that either the Wall Street Journal or the Associated Press should have been awarded the Pulitzer Prize for breaking news for their coverage of the Deepwater Horizon/BP Gulf of Mexico oil spill.

Achenbach writes, “I should note that the Journal didn’t go unacknowledged: Its oil spill coverage was a finalist in the National News category. The winner in that category was Pro Publica, for coverage of Wall Street shenanigans (by the way, over on the arts and letters side of things, when will the P’s give Michael Lewis the prize he’s earned more than once?). But unless the Journal somehow botched its entry and forgot to include its best work, I find it hard to believe that the board could have looked at the Journal’s package of coverage and concluded that it wasn’t worthy of a Pulitzer in some category.

“I suspect the real problem is that the breaking news category stipulates that the work be ‘local.’ Why make that stiipulation? There’s already a separate category for Local News.

“The Journal was very good in its coverage early and often, with superior enterprise pieces that were the first to lay out precisely what went wrong on the terrible night of April 20, 2010, as shown in company documents and emails. That work, by Ben Casselman, Russell Gold and other WSJ staffers, set the standard for every reconstruction story that followed.

“And let’s not forget the AP: It was on top of the story from the get-go and never let up. Along the way, the AP had a terrific enterprise piece on the abandoned wells that continue to pose a spill hazard. For its oil spill coverage, the AP won a George Polk Award.”

Read more here.

NYT's Leonhardt explains Pulitzer-winning column writing

by

TALKING BIZ NEWS EXCLUSIVE

Last week, David Leonhardt reached the pinnacle of journalism. He won the Pulitzer Prize for commentary for his weekly columns about the economy in the New York Times business section.

Leonhardt had been a finalist the year before.

Leonhardt writes “Economic Scene,” a weekly economics column, for The Times business section, looking at both the broad American economy and the economics of everyday life. Many of his recent columns have focused on effects of the economic downturn.

Leonhardt is also a staff writer for The New York Times Magazine and contributes to the Economix blog. In 2005, he was one of the reporters who produced “Class Matters,” the paper’s series on social class in the United States. In 2004, he founded an analytical sports column, called “Keeping Score.”

Before joining The Times in 1999, he worked for Business Week magazine and The Washington Post.

Leonhardt won the Gerald Loeb Award for magazine writing in 2009 for a Times Magazine article, “Obamanomics.” He was a winner of the Society of American Business Editors and Writers Best in Business Journalism Contest for his Times column in 2009 and 2007.

He was part of a team of Times reporters whose coverage of corporate scandals was a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize in 2003. In 1998, he won a Peter Lisagor Award, from the Chicago Headline Club, for a BusinessWeek story on problems at McDonald’s.

Leonhardt spoke by e-mail with Talking Biz News about his approach to column writing. What follows is an edited transcript.

How did you get interested in writing about the economy?

I’ve always liked numbers, and I like reporting about issues that have a big effect on people’s lives. Economics seems like a natural extension of those two interests.

How do you decide on your topic each week?

There is a small list of topics that are the subjects of most columns — the job market, the deficit, housing, health care. If one of those is in the news — or, even better, is about to be in the news — I’ll often go with it. Otherwise, I tend to go with the specific idea I find most interesting.

How much of your weekly column is reporting vs. your opinion?

It’s hard to say exactly. Reporting informs my opinion, so I don’t think of the two as separate. With that being said, a significant chunk of just about every column could fit comfortably in a straight news analysis — in substance, if not always in tone.

Are there topics that you enjoy writing about more than others? If so, what are they?

Housing used to be my favorite, because I thought the bubble excess was obvious and many other people — real-estate agents, bankers, some homebuyers — insisted there was no bubble. But the bursting of the bubble has caused terrible damage, and housing stories these days are often sadder than they are anything else.

I’ve always enjoyed writing about academic research and continue to. I also enjoy learning about and then explaining issues that aren’t as simple as they first seem — like the widely held (and incorrect) notion that almost half of American households pay no taxes.

You do a great job of explaining complicated topics to readers. How hard is that?

Thank you. The column format makes it much easier. In a news story — with a get-to-the-point lead and a pyramid structure — it can be very hard. But in a column, it’s possible to walk readers through an issue step by step, the same way I came to understand it.

How much time do you spend writing each column?

In a typical week, part of Monday and almost all of Tuesday.

How much do you rewrite?

I rewrite a fair amount as I go — tweaking the first 3 paragraphs before writing the 4th, etc. Lately, I’ve occasionally found myself scrapping my entire lead when I’m already well into the process. It’s painful, but I’ve yet to regret having done so.

Are there columns from the past year that you’re especially proud of?

A few come to mind: Age discrimination, the deficit puzzle, the deficit we want, the history of opposition to new social programs, and work and motherhood.

You seem to have written a lot about taxes recently. Why?

Many Americans want generous government benefits and low taxes. Those two simply can’t co-exist for very long. The disconnect explains our huge looming deficit. Yet too much of the discussion of the deficit focuses on only one half of the equation: spending

What kind of reader reaction do you get from the columns?

It varies widely. Some columns get relatively little feedback. Some get hundreds of Web comments and hundreds of emails from readers. Many get somewhere in between. I also try to pay a lot of attention to the reaction on economics blogs, because there are so many good econ blogs.

How is writing the column different from the other writing you do? How is it similar?

Switching back and forth between column writing and news writing is a little tough. They require different approaches. So I’ve cut back significantly on my news writing and now do very little. Almost all my writing is for the column, for the Economix blog or for the NYT Magazine. All of those call for a similar style.

NYT’s Leonhardt explains Pulitzer-winning column writing

by

TALKING BIZ NEWS EXCLUSIVE

Last week, David Leonhardt reached the pinnacle of journalism. He won the Pulitzer Prize for commentary for his weekly columns about the economy in the New York Times business section.

Leonhardt had been a finalist the year before.

Leonhardt writes “Economic Scene,” a weekly economics column, for The Times business section, looking at both the broad American economy and the economics of everyday life. Many of his recent columns have focused on effects of the economic downturn.

Leonhardt is also a staff writer for The New York Times Magazine and contributes to the Economix blog. In 2005, he was one of the reporters who produced “Class Matters,” the paper’s series on social class in the United States. In 2004, he founded an analytical sports column, called “Keeping Score.”

Before joining The Times in 1999, he worked for Business Week magazine and The Washington Post.

Leonhardt won the Gerald Loeb Award for magazine writing in 2009 for a Times Magazine article, “Obamanomics.” He was a winner of the Society of American Business Editors and Writers Best in Business Journalism Contest for his Times column in 2009 and 2007.

He was part of a team of Times reporters whose coverage of corporate scandals was a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize in 2003. In 1998, he won a Peter Lisagor Award, from the Chicago Headline Club, for a BusinessWeek story on problems at McDonald’s.

Leonhardt spoke by e-mail with Talking Biz News about his approach to column writing. What follows is an edited transcript.

How did you get interested in writing about the economy?

I’ve always liked numbers, and I like reporting about issues that have a big effect on people’s lives. Economics seems like a natural extension of those two interests.

How do you decide on your topic each week?

There is a small list of topics that are the subjects of most columns — the job market, the deficit, housing, health care. If one of those is in the news — or, even better, is about to be in the news — I’ll often go with it. Otherwise, I tend to go with the specific idea I find most interesting.

How much of your weekly column is reporting vs. your opinion?

It’s hard to say exactly. Reporting informs my opinion, so I don’t think of the two as separate. With that being said, a significant chunk of just about every column could fit comfortably in a straight news analysis — in substance, if not always in tone.

Are there topics that you enjoy writing about more than others? If so, what are they?

Housing used to be my favorite, because I thought the bubble excess was obvious and many other people — real-estate agents, bankers, some homebuyers — insisted there was no bubble. But the bursting of the bubble has caused terrible damage, and housing stories these days are often sadder than they are anything else.

I’ve always enjoyed writing about academic research and continue to. I also enjoy learning about and then explaining issues that aren’t as simple as they first seem — like the widely held (and incorrect) notion that almost half of American households pay no taxes.

You do a great job of explaining complicated topics to readers. How hard is that?

Thank you. The column format makes it much easier. In a news story — with a get-to-the-point lead and a pyramid structure — it can be very hard. But in a column, it’s possible to walk readers through an issue step by step, the same way I came to understand it.

How much time do you spend writing each column?

In a typical week, part of Monday and almost all of Tuesday.

How much do you rewrite?

I rewrite a fair amount as I go — tweaking the first 3 paragraphs before writing the 4th, etc. Lately, I’ve occasionally found myself scrapping my entire lead when I’m already well into the process. It’s painful, but I’ve yet to regret having done so.

Are there columns from the past year that you’re especially proud of?

A few come to mind: Age discrimination, the deficit puzzle, the deficit we want, the history of opposition to new social programs, and work and motherhood.

You seem to have written a lot about taxes recently. Why?

Many Americans want generous government benefits and low taxes. Those two simply can’t co-exist for very long. The disconnect explains our huge looming deficit. Yet too much of the discussion of the deficit focuses on only one half of the equation: spending

What kind of reader reaction do you get from the columns?

It varies widely. Some columns get relatively little feedback. Some get hundreds of Web comments and hundreds of emails from readers. Many get somewhere in between. I also try to pay a lot of attention to the reaction on economics blogs, because there are so many good econ blogs.

How is writing the column different from the other writing you do? How is it similar?

Switching back and forth between column writing and news writing is a little tough. They require different approaches. So I’ve cut back significantly on my news writing and now do very little. Almost all my writing is for the column, for the Economix blog or for the NYT Magazine. All of those call for a similar style.

Wired, Bloomberg Businessweek on Adweek’s Hot List

by

Wired and Bloomberg Businessweek were named Monday to Adweek’s list of the top 10 most influential and successful magazines of the year.

For Wired, Adweek wrote, “Icon of the dot-com boom, Wired escaped the fate of the other tech magazines of the go-go ‘90s by embracing a broader editorial mission. Under the patronage of Condé Nast, which bought it in 1998, and editor Chris Anderson, Wired has become an agenda setter and a digital beacon for the company. Though it took a beating during the recession, Wired’s ad pages soared last year—up 24 percent—earning the wonky title new respect in a publishing house of fashion glossies.”

For BusinessWeek, Adweek wrote, “Businessweek was part of a dull, struggling category until the deep-pocketed Bloomberg LP bought it in late 2009 and breathed new life into it. Bloomberg installed as its editor Josh Tyrangiel, a digital wunderkind from Time Inc. and onetime music critic, who saw the need for a product that combined the speed of the Web and the illustrative ability of print. The resulting redesign has been called smart and original and drawn comparisons with New York magazine. Things seem to be moving in the right direction. Individually paid subscriptions rose 7 percent in the latter half of last year, while ad pages jumped 49 percent in the first quarter of this year, bringing profitability in sight.”

Read more here.

Wired, Bloomberg Businessweek on Adweek's Hot List

by

Wired and Bloomberg Businessweek were named Monday to Adweek’s list of the top 10 most influential and successful magazines of the year.

For Wired, Adweek wrote, “Icon of the dot-com boom, Wired escaped the fate of the other tech magazines of the go-go ‘90s by embracing a broader editorial mission. Under the patronage of Condé Nast, which bought it in 1998, and editor Chris Anderson, Wired has become an agenda setter and a digital beacon for the company. Though it took a beating during the recession, Wired’s ad pages soared last year—up 24 percent—earning the wonky title new respect in a publishing house of fashion glossies.”

For BusinessWeek, Adweek wrote, “Businessweek was part of a dull, struggling category until the deep-pocketed Bloomberg LP bought it in late 2009 and breathed new life into it. Bloomberg installed as its editor Josh Tyrangiel, a digital wunderkind from Time Inc. and onetime music critic, who saw the need for a product that combined the speed of the Web and the illustrative ability of print. The resulting redesign has been called smart and original and drawn comparisons with New York magazine. Things seem to be moving in the right direction. Individually paid subscriptions rose 7 percent in the latter half of last year, while ad pages jumped 49 percent in the first quarter of this year, bringing profitability in sight.”

Read more here.

Judging the Pulitzers

by

Carol Stark, the editor of the Joplin Globe in Missouri, writes about what is was like to be a Pulitzer judge this year.

Stark judged the commentary category, which was won by David Leonhardt, who writes a weekly column about economics in the business section of the New York Times.

Stark writes, “Among the entrants were columnists from all sizes of newspapers, letter writers, humor columnists, business columnists and even a guy whose cover letter intrigued all of us.

“‘These columns got me fired,’ he began.

“Well, who can resist finding out what great secret he had uncovered. Reading on we learned he was a freelance writer who got fired because the paper’s budget got the ax.

“On Monday of this week, the Pulitzer Prizes were awarded. If you’re interested, check it out at www.pulitzer.org. Our job as jurors was to present the Pulitzer Board with three nominees. We were instructed not to rank the three because the final decision would be made by the board.

“The winner in the commentary category was David Leonhardt who writes ‘Economic Scene,’ a weekly economics column for The New York Times business section.

“Leonhardt is one of the few business writers — and there are many — who can deliver a column not bogged down by jargon. In fact, he created his own reader quiz, asking readers to fix the budget. We read his columns on the first day, thus setting a high bar for all the others.”

Read more here.

Write your answers on a piece of paper and see how you do.
1. What are three ways in which investors can assess a stock relative to another stock?
2. What are three differences between mutual funds and hedge funds?
3. What is the main difference between investing in stocks and investing in bonds?
4. What are the two basic types of mortgages that a consumer can use to buy a home?
5. Why does a homeowner typically refinance his or her home mortgage?
6. What are the two basic types of health insurance coverage offered by most employers?
7. What’s the biggest difference between whole life insurance and term life insurance?
8. How should an employee invest the money he or she is putting into a 401(k) account?
9. How many times a year can consumers request a free copy of their credit report?
10. Name two government agencies to contact if you’ve been a victim of identity theft.
Now, here are the answers. Be honest in grading your work.
1. Price-to-earnings multiple, price-to-book multiple, and the net profit margin.
2. Mutual funds may advertise, while hedge funds may not. Hedge funds “short” stocks, while most mutual funds do not. (To “short” a stock means to borrow the stock, sell it, and hope the price declines before the borrowed stock must be repaid). Hedge fund managers typically collect a percentage of the profits of their investments as a performance fee in addition to a management fee. Most mutual fund managers do not collect a separate performance fee.
3. Owning stock gives you a small ownership in the company. Owning bonds gives you no ownership.
4. Fixed-rate mortgage and adjustable-rate mortgage.
5. A homeowner typically refinances when interest rates for comparable new mortgages have declined well below the interest rate on their current mortgage.
6. Indemnity plans and managed care plans are the two basic types of health insurance.
7. A whole life policy covers a person until they die. A term life policy covers the person for only a certain period, such as 10 years.
8. For most investors, a 401(k) should have a diversified portfolio, with some money in stocks, some money in bonds, some money in a money market account, and some money in another investment, such as real estate or commodities.
9. A consumer can request his or her credit report three times a year — once from each of the credit rating agencies. Watch out, though. Requesting your credit report too many times can lower your credit score.
10. The Federal Trade Commission and the Social Security Administration.
OK, let’s assess how you did. Here is my grading scale:

0 to 2 correct: You’re reading this book for a reason, right?
3 to 5 correct: You never worried about the details when it came to spending money.
6 to 8 correct: You pay attention to your finances, but you need to sharpen your skills.
9 to 10 correct: What are you doing here? You already know everything.

The origins of a Pulitzer-winning series

by

Greg Masters of American Journalism Review interviewed Sarasota Herald-Tribune reporter Paige St. John, who won a Pulitzer Prize earlier this week for a series of stories about the problems of Florida’s property & casualty insurance industry.

Masters writes, “Before coming to the Herald-Tribune in 2008, St. John, 50, worked in Tallahassee for Gannett as Florida Statehouse bureau chief. There, she covered the spate of hurricanes in 2004 and 2005 that resulted in massive insurance claims across the state. In the aftermath, big insurers left the state and insurance premiums skyrocketed. ‘Two governors doing their best with two different philosophies seemed unable to make any kind of change to turn that ship around,’ she says. Even without hurricanes in the next five years, insurance rates kept rising and companies kept leaving. ‘That left me and this paper and a lot of other people in Florida asking the question: Why?’

“She set out to answer that question when she joined the Herald-Tribune, launching a two-year investigation into Florida’s insurance industry. ‘It just kept getting bigger and bigger,’ she says. ‘We kept finding more and more we needed to say.’ Reviewing financial filings, she found that many insurers exhibited financial risk and were ‘barely capable of paying for house fires, let alone hurricanes,’ as she wrote in a February 2010 story.

“She uncovered a ‘market of small, domestic, Florida-only companies’ that sent money to the reinsurance industry to buy their own hurricane protection. ‘The majority of that coverage was coming from reinsurance companies based in Bermuda,’ she says.

“So she went to Bermuda ‘to follow the dollar,’ chasing down elusive insurers with notebook and pencil in hand. Once there, she realized that to follow the money trail, she had to go much farther: to Europe. She traveled to Monte Carlo and attended the Rendez-Vous de Septembre, an annual convention where reinsurance bigwigs negotiate contracts at the height of hurricane season. ‘In Monte Carlo, there was no distinguishing of who I was and where I was from. I was a reporter; I could have been from the Financial Times as far as they knew. And by then I was fairly well-educated and spoke the lingo of the industry and could directly talk to these people and ask them direct questions and get direct answers.’”

Read more here.

A Pulitzer winner discusses his work

by

TALKING BIZ NEWS EXCLUSIVE

On Monday, Jesse Eisinger and Jake Bernstein of ProPublica won a Pulitzer Prize in the national reporting category for their exposure of questionable practices on Wall Street that “contributed to the nation’s economic meltdown, using digital tools to help explain the complex subject to lay readers,” according to the judges.

It was the first Pulitzer ever awarded to an online news organization, and the first not to appear in print. The two collaborated with public radio’s “Planet Money” and “This American Life.”

Their story showed how Wall Street banks bought mortgage-backed securities that they had generated to maintain their profits and bonuses, propping up a faltering market until it collapsed under its own weight.

Credit: Lars KloveBefore joining ProPublica in August 2009, Eisinger was the Wall Street editor at Conde Nast Portfolio, where he wrote a November 2007 cover story titled “Wall Street Requiem,” in which he predicted the demise of Bear Stearns and Lehman Brothers.

Before joining Portfolio, he worked at The Wall Street Journal, where he was the founding writer of two market commentary columns, and he played a leading role in exposing accounting fraud at Belgium-based Lernout & Hauspie. During his tenure at The Journal’s European edition, Eisinger won a “Best in Business” award from the London-based World Leadership Forum for his coverage of accounting irregularities at the Irish drug maker Elan Corp. Earlier in his career, he covered biotechnology and pharmaceuticals for TheStreet.com and Dow Jones Newswires.

Eisinger talked by phone Thursday with Talking Biz News about the Pulitzer-winning work. What follows is an edited transcript.

How did the idea first come up to look more closely at the mortgage-backed securities market?

Adam Davidson and Alex Blumberg at “Planet Money” had come to us, and they had done an enormously important piece of journalism with “The Giant Pool of Money.” It was incredibly prescient because it came before the events of September 2008. They wanted to pose the follow-up question that they didn’t have the time and capacity to do, which is “What did investment bankers know and when did they know it?” We thought that was a very interesting question, so we took it on. And the obvious place to look was collateralized debt obligations because that was the nexus of the financial crisis. That is what brought down Bear and Merrill and almost Citi.

So we started looking there, talking to anybody we knew in structured finance. And we kept hearing that we should look at this hedge fund, Magnetar, and its deals. None of this was public information. The prospectuses are very difficult to get, and when you get them they are incomprehensible. So even basic stuff like how many deals existed was very hard to come by. So it was a difficult, grueling effort.

How did you and Jake begin?

There were a collection of people involved in this business who didn’t really like what had happened. And some of them had gotten out of the business before it had gotten bad. And some of them tried not to participate in the worst of abuses. And some of them had remorse and wanted to confess their sins and get absolution. A lot of people, the vast majority of people, had no sense of having done anything wrong or a sense of regret. They only had a sense of privilege, that they were allowed to do this, and that the money they made was prefectly legitimate.

As we got more information, then we could start to go to the real principals, the perpetrators of the deals, the people who had pumped the market up. And we had enough information that they had to talk.

How much did it help to have a research firm crunch some data for you?

It helped a lot, but not for the first story. The first story was on Magnetar, and we didn’t have data for that. But then after that, we had envisioned the second story while we were working on the first. But no one had really every undertaken this study of what bought what in the CDO business. It was enormously helpful to have that data. We commissioned it, and that was a great help in grounding the story in some very solid information.

How did you break up the reporting and writing with Jake?

We didn’t. We went to almost every single interview together. In terms of writing, we divided up and tried to come up with an organization structure and outline, and then assign by saying things like, “I’ll take the top, and you take this section.” And these stories went through 20 to 30 edits each. By the end of it, you couldn’t have any pride or ownership of any sentence. It was very carefully edited by Eric Umansky and Steve Engleberg. It was carefully composed and debated. Steve would read it and would say that it wasn’t clear, so we would try to do it again.

How easy, or difficult, was it to get people on Wall Street to talk about this?

It was extremnely difficult. It was a lot of calls, lots of trying to persuade them by explaining what we had. We had a lot of hangups and doors slammed in our faces and e-mails that went unanswered. The big problem was that we couldn’t figure out how to give the banker an incentive to talk to us. Often you’ll be able to play people off each other with competitors, or you’ll have investigators and be able to triangulate information. Here we were struggling with finding anyone with an incentive to talk to us. Here it was a few years after the crisis, and no one was investigating. They didn’t have any incentive to talk.

We were really persistsnt, and people, even though they don’t have an incentive, they do like to talk about themselves and their work. And if you’re sophisticated, you’re honoring them by understandiung their business. And that’s how they opened up.

Some people were pissed off and thought it was an outrage and were stunned that it hadn’t come out yet. What was amazing was that there were so few victims who wanted to talk about this. We kept saying, where are all the lawsuits? In the Magnetar deal, one of the investors was an institutional investor in Minneapolis that pools money for Lutherans. We thought these guys were a victim and didn’t know how this deal came about. So Jake and I called and called, and tried to talk to them about something they took millions of losses on. But no answer. I went out there and sat in their lobby and asked them to come down and talk to me, and they said no and they sent security to ask me to leave. We could never figure out what they didn’t want to know why they lost money other than they didn’t want to come off as looking like they gotten taken by this hedge fund.

You also worked with public radio to tell this story. How did they fit in?

They were fantastic. We were really struggling to tell the story in a compelling way to entice the reader in. Alex Blumberg was writing the script for the “This American Life” episode, and he had framed the story in such a good way that we borrowed that for our version. He helped us think about it and frame it. They are wonderful storytellers. And that’s what we wanted to do. This is not a story that lends itself easily to a narrative.

The thing that I liked about the stories was that they explained something complicated in a way that anyone could understand. How did you two accomplish that?

We were cognizant of that goal, but really what it was that was Eric and Steve hammered all of the jargon out of us and made us explain what it was so that they could understand it as well as we did, but they had no background on this stuff. They made us explain it so we could get it across to them. They took months and drafts and drafts. But we all had the same goal in mind. The goal was to make it as clear as possible while giving justice to the complexity. It was very very hard. Wall Street is purposely wrapping itself in complexity and opacity. They didn’t want investors to understand them, they don’t want regulators to understand, and they certainly don’t want journalists to understand.

When did you two realize that you had a major story?

Only after the first story ran. When we pressed the button on the Magnetar story, I told Jake that it’s a 50-50 chance that this disappears into the ether because it’s about a hedge fund that nobody has heard of. But it was huge. And what we both realized was that there was an enormous hunger for people to explain the financial crisis, and it had not been fully explained or examined. That’s when I realized there was an audience for this kind of story.

How would you assess media coverage of Wall Street in the past few years?

It’s a hell of a lot better than leading up to the bubble. I think people are really skeptical now of the size and power of the banks. I think it’s pretty good. There are some big flaws of the coverage still. But The New York Times and the Huffington Post are doing great work, and McClatchy is doing it. Bloomberg has been great. Leading up to the crisis, there was a big collapse of any criticism. There needed to be a concerted effort to understand how Wall Street was making money and to look at all of the shadow banking, and journalism failed in all of that.

I would like to think I was one of the closest to that because I wrote about derivatives and that Bear and Lehman were about to fail because of their leverage. I saw glimmers of the crisis and wrote about it often, but I don’t think that we did enough. Not that anybody would have paid attention. I don’t think we could have prevented it.

Who is the better business journalist, you or your wife? (Eisinger’s wife is Sarah Ellison, the former Wall Street Journal reporter who wrote “War at The Wall Street Journal” about News Corp.’s takeover of Dow Jones & Co.)

She is, obviously. There is no question. She is a better reporter and writer!

Why the WSJ and Bloomberg didn’t win Pulitzers for covering the crisis

by

Dean Starkman of the Columbia Journalism Review examines the reasons why The Wall Street Journal and Bloomberg News didn’t win Pulitzer Prizes for their work in covering the Wall Street crisis of the past three years.

Starkman writes, “But if I had to read the tea leaves on this one, I look to the National Prize, won by ProPublica’s Jesse Eisinger and Jake Bernstein, for their work exploring and unraveling the colossal scandal that was the financial crisis. One story in that series told how Wall Street banks, faced with difficulty in selling toxic debt, created fake demand, selling their unwanted CDOs to other CDOs. This is not a wonky detail. The actions grossly enlarged future losses borne by investors and the public. Another story reported how one hedge fund, Magnetar, on its own helped to perpetuate the housing bubble by having toxic CDOs created and betting against them.

“The full series is here: The more you learn, the worse it gets.

“I wonder if the Pulitzer jurors and board feel as I do, that we’re still in about the third inning of this profound and historic event and its aftermath. The virtuosity of Eisinger and Bernstein’s work aside — and it was virtuous indeed, as we said as the series unfolded — perhaps the best thing about it was that they decided to keep after the story after others had foolishly moved on. I always thought that was nuts, especially if you have the words ‘Wall Street’ in your name.

“I’m sure Bloomberg News, which has long sought a Pulitzer, is disappointed it, too, didn’t win. But the Bloomberg entries that made it among the finalists, as good as they were, also didn’t deal with the crisis, the business story, the story, really, of our time.”

Read more here.