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Bad News: How America's Business Press Missed the Story of the Century Hardcover – January 25, 2011


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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 240 pages
  • Publisher: New Press, The (January 25, 2011)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1595585494
  • ISBN-13: 978-1595585493
  • Product Dimensions: 0.9 x 5.9 x 8.5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 13.4 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (5 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #2,269,386 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

Review


"Though the contributors disagree on whether the media did or did not do its job, all present smart, deeply considered analyses that make for fascinating reading."
Publisher's Weekly

"A sort of All the President’s Men for our time, and just the thing to lure bright young people into economics graduate programs and journalism school—if only there were jobs waiting on the other end."
Kirkus Reviews

About the Author

Anya Schiffrin is the director of the media and communications program at Columbia’s School of International and Public Affairs. She spent 10 years working overseas as a journalist in Europe and Asia, writing for a number of different magazines and newspapers. She was bureau chief for Dow Jones Newswires in Amsterdam and Hanoi and wrote regularly for the Wall Street Journal. She was a Knight-Bagehot Fellow at Columbia University's Graduate School of Journalism in 1999-2000 and then a senior writer at the Industry Standard, covering banking and finance. She writes a monthly column for the Japanese business magazine Toyo Keizai.

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By Loyd E. Eskildson HALL OF FAME on March 11, 2011
Format: Hardcover
"Bad News" is a compilation of articles that provides an overview of opposing points on the adequacy of business press coverage of events leading up to and through the 'Great Recession.' While its points are good, the material is entirely too long (repetitive), and should have been condensed into an article.

The book begins by pointing out that 'The Great Recession' came at a time when American journalism was already imploding, thanks to migration of advertising revenue to the Internet. An estimated 28,000 newspaper jobs were lost in 2008-09. In addition, many sources dried up, fearing publicity would make things worse, while those remaining tried even more than usual to provide positive spin - antithetical to the transparency required for well-functioning markets. Prior to the collapse, the business press wrote overly-fawning pieces about those in power - eg. Lehman's Dick Fuld, Merril Lynch's Stan O'Neil, Enron's Ken Lay, and the Federal Reserve's Alan Greenspan. Repeal of Glass-Steagall was heralded, and critics largely ignored. Many new business reporters didn't understand what they were covering, and had to rely on (slanted) sources. Articles also often failed to report, how eg. job losses were measured, the inherent variability of economic numbers, and alternatives measures of the topic of interest. Nonetheless, there still was some excellent reporting - eg. problems at Fannie and Freddie, Greenspan, Summers, and Rubin's role suppressing regulation of derivatives, AIG bailout scandals, excess leverage, etc. This was despite dodgy and complex accounting that was 'blessed' by authoritative CPAs, and non-existent regulation.

Another problem with honest business reporting is that nobody likes negativity, especially when the market is climbing and all one's retirement is tied to it.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Matt Walter on March 12, 2011
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Bad News offers a thought provoking analysis of the role the business press played during the financial crisis, and in the years leading up to it. Rather than making excuses for the media's failure to provide enough critical coverage of Wall Street as the housing bubble inflated, this book seeks to identify weaknesses in the way media companies are structured, and problems with the incentives and constrains journalists face. Chapters written by top business reporters and academics provide several perspectives on what the media did and didn't do well before and during the crisis. Anya Schiffrin, a professor at Columbia University and long-time journalist in Europe and Asia, edits and writes the introduction. Contributing writers include Nobel Prize winner Joseph Stiglitz, Columbia Journalism Review's Dean Starkman, and Peter Goodman from The Huffington Post. As a former economy reporter myself, I found the book captured the core problems with the financial press. Bad News traces these issues to the historical beginnings of the business media and brings the debate forward with a lively discussion about how to build good sources, obtain reliable information, improve reporter expertise, and get beyond pack journalism. The book is an enjoyable read for anyone interested in understanding the motivating factors behind press coverage, and the need for financial journalists to hold Wall Street accountable.
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Format: Hardcover
Much has been made of how the goverment regulators and the money-makers failed to see the 2008 economic collapse coming. But little has been done on why the financial media, the people who should have been paying attention to the signs, failed to bring that to the public. Now, finally, this collection of essays wonderfully dissects the issues that prevented the media from getting the story out.

The problem was that the collapse came just as the print media was suffering from massive cutbacks, too busy fighting for their survival to see what was going on. "The Wall Street Journal," the long-time leader, was shifted by Rupert Murdoch to doing general news right when a focus on the economy was needed most. Far too many of the younger reporters grew up in a time when the economy was good, not realizing the signs of a bad slump when they were coming and didn't bother cultivating the sources older reporters needed.

The biggest surprise when reading is just how much the media championed the very companies that would end up destorying things. Jim Cramer is singled out for his infamous push for Bear Sterns just days before they went bankrupt and trying to brush it off as an "urban myth" that got him in more trouble. It seemed that the media was hesitant to go after these guys for fears that it would mar the public confidence in the economy, not getting that they were damaging the public with the refusual to go deeper into the truth.

There were people who stood up early, doing investigating but most were ignored, too small voices in the landscape. The advent of blogging is mentioned and how many of them got the inside scoop but were ignored by the rest of the media who arrogantly assumed bloggers couldn't be real press.
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Format: Hardcover
This book is a collection of essays that the editor ties nicely together. Her opening chapter provides a good summary or the big picture challenges for US journalism--beyond just the business beat. The editor manages one of the most important training centers for young journalists from around the world, and she knows this domain. But then the chapters make sense as a argumentative sequence: essays about important supplies (and demands) for information have an impact on what can be reported; changes in the organizational structure of the newsroom; some international perspective that this is not just a US problem. The conclusion usefully hints at some best practices that, if we accept that the business model for journalism has changed, should be required reading for journalism students. Actually, this should be required reading for any media professional seeking to understand the big changes in contemporary journalism.
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