Audit Notes: SEC Chills, Tallahassee Paywall, Goldman TLC

Felix Salmon takes on the SEC’s backdoor subpoena of two Dow Jones journalists’ communications:

… it nullifies a huge amount of the welcome sentiment behind the SEC’s policy on asking for information from journalists, if the SEC can ignore all those guidelines when asking for information from journalists’ sources.

The SEC should encourage communication between sources and the press, using the press as a kind of adjunct enforcement mechanism. Instead, this kind of activity is prone to making sources even quieter. And that doesn’t serve the SEC at all.

Indeed. The SEC is shooting itself in the foot here.

— Gannett’s Tallahassee Democrat goes paywall. And I do mean paywall. None of this WSJ-style leaky paywall stuff (which is what I think makes most sense).

Although, as several on Twitter have pointed out, the piece is a case study in not getting to the point, when it does, it makes sense:

In reality, more people are reading us now than ever before in print and online. It no longer seems fair to have only half of our readers pay for content while the other half reads for free online. This is about changing how we do business, not simply putting up a paywall on digital content.

The paper will charge $9.95 a month for an online-only subscription or $2 a day. It most likely won’t see much revenue from Web payments, but it will change the calculus for recession-strapped print subscribers wondering why they’re paying good money when they could read it for free online. And it keeps its options open for new platforms like the iPad.

Reuters reports on the fallout from the Goldman Sachs fraud charges. While it’s keeping most of its clients, it is losing out on some big deals.

It reports that Calpers has rejected Goldman (an Audit funder) as a real-estate adviser and that the Carlyle Group took its business elsewhere, as it “worried about the public perception of Goldman leading an IPO for a company with close ties to the U.S. Department of Defense.”

The gist of the piece is that Goldman’s high-handedness about doing business with people is something of a thing of the past:

Another hedge fund that a year ago turned down Goldman for a prime brokerage assignment was recently contacted again by the Wall Street firm to see if it would reconsider. A person close to the hedge fund, who declined to be identified, said the incident was surprising since Goldman rarely comes back begging for business…

A former Goldman partner, who left the firm more than a decade ago but still advises a number of Goldman clients, said the firm’s sudden TLC is a clear response to the SEC lawsuit and the pounding the firm suffered during an especially harsh hearing on Capitol Hill in April.

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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.