Audit notes: WSJ dings austerity, Weisenthal, The Global Mail

If you’re looking to get up to speed on what happened with the euro and Greece, you could do a lot worse than Marcus Walker’s excellent page-one story in The Wall Street Journal today.

The Journal recounts how Angela Merkel and the Germans’ disastrous insistence on punitive austerity has led Greece to the point of collapse—and threatens the entire European project.

Here’s the nut graph:

Greece’s growing turmoil is the culmination of a radical austerity experiment and botched economic overhaul that have pushed the nation to the brink of social and political breakdown. The story of the ill-fated bailout suggests that forcing deep austerity on individual member states won’t save the euro and may worsen its crisis.

Above all, Greece’s example illustrates the conflict between Germany’s tough terms for aiding other euro members and the amount of pain other societies can bear. Greece’s fate shows that what it takes to sell bailouts to a skeptical German public can be politically calamitous in Europe’s indebted south.

Commence WSJ editorial page return fire in 3…2…1…

— Binyamin Appelbaum writes a must-read profile of Business Insider’s half man/half machine Joe Weisenthal for this week’s New York Times Magazine:

During the course of an average 16-hour day, Weisenthal writes 15 posts, ranging from charts with a few lines of explanatory text to several hundred words of closely reasoned analysis. He manages nearly a dozen reporters, demanding and redirecting story ideas. He fiddles incessantly with the look and contents of the site. And all the while he holds a running conversation with the roughly 19,000 people who follow his Twitter alter ego, the Stalwart. He spars, jokes, asks and answers questions, advertises his work and, in the spirit of our time, reports on his meals, his whereabouts and whatever else is on his mind.

He is like the host of a daylong radio show, except no one speaks out loud. He rarely makes phone calls. His phone almost never rings.

Some of what he writes is air and sugar. Some of it is wrong or incomplete or misleading. But he delivers jolts of sharp, original insight often enough to hold the attention of a high-powered audience that includes economists like The Times columnist Paul Krugman and Wall Street heavies like the hedge-fund manager Douglas Kass and the bond investor Jeff Gundlach.

— I happened across a website called The Global Mail (a sort of Aussie ProPublica) today and it has one of the best reading interfaces I’ve seen:

Instead of scrolling up and down, you click your left and right arrow keys to flip through the story. It just feels better.

Having no ads makes it easier to design a spare, readable site, but I can imagine half page ads inserted in a format like this might actually work—and work better than typical news-site ads.

Has America ever needed a media watchdog more than now? Help us by joining CJR today.

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: , , , ,