Why did the media not see this huge financial crisis coming? This insightful article asks and answers that question, in large part by talking about the problems with covering big business such as a reluctance to dig deep into non-flashy issues and being unable to get proper responses and being treated like idiots by patronising corporate lords. Take this for example: PBS’s David Brancaccio says that “we journalists have had a long history with accepting what the smart people hand down to us, especially on complicated stuff. . . . When I would cover these very issues about problems with regulation, problems with ‘is this a disaster waiting to happen?’ people would say: ‘Well, young man, you don’t have an MBA like I do. Trust us. We went to business school.’ ”
That’s kind of strange because I’d think that journalists would be more demanding and dogged than to just take brush-offs like that. Of course, maybe many journalists wouldn’t want to waste their time pursuing arcane, technical boring stuff like financial derivatives and credit-swaps, except now when the crap hits the fan. Other reasons include being taken in by the hype and mystique, or worse actually playing a huge role in creating that hype, of corporate CEOs and so on, as well as, weirdly enough, an expectation that business media should only report positive reasons, both for marketing reasons-“Gasparino recalls interviewing for a financial magazine job and having the editor warn him that he couldn’t sell magazines “with a bucket of crap on the cover.” -and for fear of harming companies’ reputations and stocks (since when has that been a responsibility of the press?).
And if I wanted to be really cynical, I can assume that it suits media outlets to only cover problems when they get really serious as opposed to when they’re just beginning.