Audit Notes: Picturing the Turmoil, WSJ vs. SmartMoney, Long Crisis

Lots of people are linking the Brokers With Hands On Their Faces Blog in the midst of the market turmoil of the last few days. It’s a nifty bit of media criticism.

My former colleague Elinore Longobardi wrote about the media’s penchantfor glum-trader pictures back in 2008:

Across the financial press, we see not only too many photos of stock traders but too many photos of the same traders.

And it’s not just a creativity problem, it’s an accuracy problem.

Presenting only the human face is misleading, obscuring how markets work nowadays, which is primarily by automation. It might be a bit more representative of reality to have a photo of a machine plugged into a wall in an air-conditioned server farm.

— Now it’s The New York Times perpetuating the two-crises meme.

I criticized a Wall Street Journal column the other day, and this is in the lead story on page one of the NYT:

Unlike the 2008 crisis, which began in the United States and spread worldwide after the bankruptcy of Lehman Brothers and the near collapse of the giant insurer American International Group as subprime mortgage defaults surged, today’s situation began overseas. The mounting fear about European banks’ exposure to sovereign debt is now fraying nerves here.

Sorry, but this situation is a result of the 2008 crisis, and it began with the housing bubble and crash in the U.S. The resulting direct government spending and loss of revenues due to the financial industry-caused near-depression sent debt-to-GDP levels soaring in the U.S. and across Europe and resulted in the staggered economies we still have today.

This is all one long financial crisis.

— I wasn’t the only one baffled yesterday by that mess of a SmartMoney piece asserting that borrowers’ rates are going up in the wake of the downgrade. Kelly Evans and Evan Newmark of corporate cousin The Wall Street Journal were too:

Now that’s how you interview someone who’s not making sense. Excellent.

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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: , , , ,