Saturday, March 07, 2009

Business journalism and lines it sometimes blurs

Ryan Chittum at the Columbia Journalism Review provides a Jon Stewart clip with his column, The Daily Show Eviscerates Santelli and CNBC:
"But what makes this so interesting is what Stewart does to pierce the CNBC bubble on several different things that make the network so disliked by business journalists generally:
"Its lack of a line between opinion and reporting (and lack of disclosure about who’s a reporter and who’s not). Its Siamese-twin closeness to Wall Street. Its rah-rah rooting for the stock markets. Its inanity in interviews that too often veers into sycophancy.
"On the other hand, if there is a discomfort among the business reporters with CNBC, it might be because the network’s bad practices are only extreme manifestations of wider cultural problems in their profession.

USA Today's report on the same Stewart episode has drawn more than 80 comments already.

New York Times business columist Joe Nocera, who was also on the show, posted a clip of his own interview, but the discussion thread includes both segments.

"You should be a financial columnist. You've got the whole thing figured out," Nocera says to Stewart... then catches himself using Stewart's analytical language, referring to the financial industry's "crappy loans." He also joked that Stewart's analysis of the financial industry would give him his Saturday column.

So here's Nocera's Saturday column, actually not based on the Stewart interview, but focused on G.E., which (coincidentally?) owns CNBC. I'll recommend it to my students when we talk about thorough business journalism, versus the kind that blurs those lines between billionaire-celebrity-chat, opinion pieces and real "You're mother says she loves you, but check it out" reporting.

(Students also might be interested in discussing the interplay between Nocera's blog at and his column in The New York Times.)

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