How Could 9,000 Business Reporters Blow It?

How Could 9,000 Business Reporters Blow It?

FOR CASUAL readers of business coverage—that is, most of us—the past 18 months have been a crash course in things we never knew existed but that, we are told, have already done us all irreparable harm. Not only are the problems catastrophic, goes the somewhat frustrating message, but it is already too late to do anything about them—other, that is, than pay for them.

In looking back on how we got here, the business press assumes a tone of rueful omniscience, as in this late-2007 New York Times piece on regulatory laxity under Alan Greenspan: "Had officials bothered to look, frightening clues of the coming crisis were available." Of course, the clues the Times cites in the very next sentence—the ceaseless research of the North Carolina-based Center for Responsible Lending—were available had anyone bothered to look. So, a reader might well ask, why didn't the media?

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