Audit Notes: Bagged Men, whistleblowers, Times-Picayune

Rupert Murdoch, prepare your checkbook

The Washington Post’s Erik Wemple asks the New York Post’s “Bag Men” to sue the paper for libel:

So journalists at the New York Post should be extra appreciative of the First Amendment these days. No one can revoke their journalistic licenses for their most heinous act of last week — publishing a cover photo of two guys at the marathon under the headline “Bag Men: Feds seek these two pictured at Boston Marathon.” They can continue mangling journalism for as long as the paper remains in circulation. It’s a great country.

That’s not to say there are no countermeasures. The victims of the New York Post’s scurrilousness may avail themselves of another great constitutional amendment — the seventh, which entitles people access to the courts “in suits at common law, where the value in controversy shall exceed twenty dollars…”

In other words, the young men in the New York Post cover photo can seek millions or even billions of dollars in damages from the paper. And let the Erik Wemple Blog express our firm support for this course of action.

Indeed. That Post cover was one of the worst pieces of journalism I’ve ever seen. I’m surprised we haven’t heard anything about a lawsuit yet.

Rupert Murdoch is used to writing giant checks to settle legal cases. It’s a cost of doing business for him. He’ll be firing off a large one here in due course.

The New York Times takes a good look at the state of the SEC’s newish whistleblower program, which is understaffed and struggling to keep up with a flood of tips, many of which have resulted in real action.

Wall Street is very unhappy about this turn of events, since it incentivizes whistleblowers with cash:

In recent months, several banks drafted policies compelling their staffs to report fraud internally, lawyers say.

Some companies require employees to attest annually that they never witnessed any fraud, a certification that could be used to discredit employees who later blew the whistle…

David J. Marshall, a founder of the whistle-blower law firm Katz, Marshall & Banks, said that he had seen companies subtly insert language into severance agreements that looks innocuous, but that effectively stops the employee from going to the S.E.C.

The Times reports that, “Corporate lawyers say the new policies help root out fraud at an early stage.” Right.

— The Times-Picayune or or whatever it’s called these days is investing in a new print edition… in Baton Rouge.

The paper announced that it will put out a free weekly, which looks to be focused on sports and entertainment, in the state capital. It’s the latest salvo in the Louisiana newspaper war between the Picayune and Baton Rouge’s Advocate.

One wag in comments, writes, “And the cover of the very first BR directs people to travel out of BR to Lafayette. Alrighty then.”

The editorial judgment in the paper’s Baton Rouge bureau has indeed been suspect recently, as I wrote last month.

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Ryan Chittum is a former Wall Street Journal reporter, and deputy editor of The Audit, CJR's business section. If you see notable business journalism, give him a heads-up at Follow him on Twitter at @ryanchittum. Tags: , , , ,