What Watchdog? How the Financial Press Has Failed the American Public
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LG: It’s well documented now that minorities were widely discriminated against by the mortgage industry, and continue to be abused by banks’ failures to upkeep real estate-owned property, just to name one current problem. But if mainstream media articles are using the behavioralist theory, how does this type of blame get allocated?
The behavioralists theory does align with racist attitudes. For example: the mortgage crisis was one of these huge generational setbacks for the black community, and that’s one of those things that was essentially dropped by the press. It’s very poorly understood and documented, and it’s one of the most under-covered aspects of this story.
LG: I understand you’re working on a new book that’s going to take the financial press to task. Can you give us a sneak preview?
DS: Sure. It’s called The Watchdog That Didn’t Bark, and it’s forthcoming from Columbia University Press. The book is going to be an argument for watchdog journalism and accountability reporting.
There’s a long tradition of accountability reporting in American business media, and I hope this book will be a revelation to people who think the financial press only reports on investor news, because it’s actually done things that are quite radical in the past. Starting in the early 20th century, we had an emerging business press covering the market, but it had a completely different gaze. It used this form to expose the monopolies and to set the country on the road to reform.
So, I’ll be talking about that particular line of journalism, the origins of business news and the things that impair business news today. In the past the financial press has taken on quite a robust watchdog function.
LG: Last question: It doesn’t seem like financial reporting today is all that much better than it was in the lead-up to the crisis. But what about the future?
DS: There’s no reason to think it’s going to get dramatically worse from here. What we went through was crazy. It was a near-death experience.