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Kurtz: Did Reporters Botch Run-Up to Financial Crisis?

Today it's tough to find a major newspaper that isn't looking to cover the latest on the slowing economy. People want to know how we got ourselves into this mess, and journalists are on the case. In his latest column, Washington Post media critic Howard Kurtz argues that reporters may not have to look much farther than the newsroom for the culprits.

As news organizations are being asked, "Why didn't they see this coming," Kurtz offers some possible explanations. Kurtz suggests that though some journalists realized the dangers of the housing bubble back in 2000, no one wanted to hear about it then, and when it was covered, it focused on home-buyers, not banks.

Another challenge for journalists, according to Kurtz, is their relationship with business industry sources. PBS' David Brancaccio told Kurtz, "When I would cover these very issues about problems with regulation, problems with 'is this a disaster waiting to happen?' people would say: 'Well, young man, you don't have an MBA like I do. Trust us. We went to business school.'"

Other reporters are taken under the financial sector's wing so much so that they become blind to the "obvious," Kurtz wrote.

Covering CEOs could also use some editing. Kurtz offers that the media "have a tendency to lionize CEOs and turn them into celebrities." This is worst when these movers and shakers in money matters are discovered to have played key roles in the economic downturn.

Looking at the newspaper industry today, Kurtz sees more of the problem. With staff cuts and job resignations, it will be even more challenging to increase the integrity in covering the economy -- and that's if newspapers have the staff to do the leg work.

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Title Annotation:Howard Kurtz
Author:Hill, Dexter
Publication:Editor & Publisher
Article Type:Brief article
Geographic Code:1USA
Date:Oct 6, 2008
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