First, the public should be aware—warned, so to be speak—that its interests and those of the business press may not be in perfect alignment. The business press exists within the Wall Street and corporate subculture and understandably must adopt its idioms and customs, the better to translate them for the rest of us. Still, it relies on those institutions for its stories. Burning a bridge is hard. It is far easier for news bureaucracies to accept ever-narrowing frames of discourse, frames forcefully pushed by industry, even if those frames marginalize and eventually exclude the business press’s own great investigative traditions.

Second, there’s a difference between reporting from an investor’s perspective and from a citizen’s. The business press is better at the former than the latter, and the gap has only been growing. I would only caution that what’s good for investors in the short and medium terms may not be good for anyone over the long haul.

Third, remember the nexus between uncompromised regulation and great journalism.

Fourth, lament the decline of the great business sections of general-circulation dailies, specifically those of the Los Angeles Times and The Washington Post.

Fifth, seek alternatives. Read Mother Jones, or something, once in a while.

Sixth, never, ever underestimate the importance of editorial leadership and news ownership, for in them rests the power to push back against structural conflicts and cultural taboos fostered by industry, to clear a space for business journalism to do the job it is clearly capable of, the one job that really needed doing. 


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Dean Starkman , CJR's Kingsford Capital Fellow, runs The Audit,'s business desk. Megan McGinley, a CJR intern, and Elinore Longobardi, an Audit staff writer, provided research. This story and the two following were supported with a grant from the Investigative Fund of The Nation Institute, for which we are deeply grateful.