In 2004, however, the press paid little attention to the meeting in which that decision was made. “The proceeding was sparsely attended,” wrote Labaton. “None of the major media outlets, including The New York Times, covered it.”

We probably should have shone the spotlight more brightly on de facto deregulation, such as cuts in spending for enforcement. And we certainly should have tried harder to keep tabs on industries created completely outside the regulatory framework.

Kudos, by the way, to Bloomberg News for filing suit in early November in federal court arguing that the Fed is required under the U.S. Freedom of Information Act to reveal more details about how it is spending the bailout money.

Some state watchdogs were able to step into the regulatory void during the past decade, as then New York Attorney General Elliot Spitzer did, uncovering unsavory practices by stock analysts and in the mutual-fund industry. And when they did pick up the regulatory slack, we remembered how wonderful it is for reporters (and for readers and investors) to have regulation.

I’ve had occasion to regret sunshine-meeting laws, forced to sit through some staggeringly dull committee meetings, when, in earlier times, I would have been outside the door joking and gossiping with other excluded reporters. But, by and large, sunshine laws are good for the press and the public—and so is regulation.

As someone who spent years watching airline bankruptcies, I can attest that the transition to deregulation has its own fun and excitement. But thoughtful regulation is good for industries, which sometimes are not the best judges of the consequence of certain practices. And it’s good for consumers and investors.

It’s as American as the Freedom of Information Act and the First Amendment. 

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Martha M. Hamilton , CJR's Audit Arbiter, explores complaints about fairness, accuracy, and other issues arising from business-news stories. Send possible story ideas her way at the link on her name. A former reporter, editor, and columnist at The Washington Post, she is a writer and editor for