Columbia Journalism Review: Boiler Room. It seems to me that well into Year II of the Panic, the business press is in the process of making the same mistake it made in the run-up to the debacle: focusing on esoteric Wall Street concerns and ignoring the simplest, most basic, but most important one—the breathtaking corruption that overran the U.S. lending industry, including and especially the brand names, and the extent to which Wall Street drove that corruption. Let’s just call it a case of over-sophistication. Its persistence, however, will only impede journalists’ ability to cover this thing going forward.
True, as far as it goes. But the journalistic scandal, which will go forever unpunished — except, perhaps, to the degree that journalists will lose jobs in the economic carnage — is failing to go after the story that was in front of people’s noses as the bubble inflated — at a time when it might have done some good.
There were a few exceptions, as Dean Starkman notes in his CJR piece. But the overwhelming majority of coverage of housing during that period was of the cheerleading variety. It was uncritical and shabby work.
If our economy goes off a cliff, journalists won’t be the ones at fault. But they’ll have much to answer for anyway, because they utterly failed to do their jobs when it counted.