The business sections of newspapers have become doomsayers for the nation. Sensationalistic journalism decries of the failings and crises that have done our economy irreparable harm.
Rewind to a couple of years ago, and the print media was content with profiles of personable CEOs and pages upon pages devoted to the kitschy Mergers and Acquisitions. Where was the hard-hitting reporting that could’ve opened the public’s eyes to the failing economy much sooner?
“I'll attest that business journalists as a rule are as smart, sophisticated, and plugged-in as they seem”, notes former Wall Street Journal reporter Dean Starkman in a recent article for Mother Jones. And yet that army of professional business reporters – an estimated 9,000 or so nationwide in print alone – for all practical purposes missed the biggest story on the beat. Why?”
Starkman suggests the print industry’s own declining financial health may play a role. In the last decade alone, the New York Times profit margins have fallen from 24 percent to a meager 8.5.The newspaper industry’s failing has also resulted in a 25 percent loss of jobs in the business reporting field alone.
He adds that business journalism’s insistence on clinging to outdated formulas could play a role. The focus on consumer-pleasing and personality-driven stories – “not deconstructing balance sheets or figuring out risks” – seems part of the problem.