Audit Rewind: Dean Starkman’s Best of 2008

A roundup of some of his favorites from 2008

1) The Anglo-ization of The Wall Street Journal Dean saw the Journal moving toward a more British/Australian style of journalism—one that doesn’t dig as deep—and didn’t like it one little bit. He was right, alas: See his latest analysis of how the WSJ has lost its way at precisely the wrong moment in history.

2) The WSJ’s Little Committee That Failed… That column was set up a few weeks earlier by Rupert Murdoch’s sacking of the Journal editor Marcus Brauchli. Everybody including Brauchli, but especially the well-paid pooh-bahs on the paper’s “editorial independence” board, came out looking very bad.

3) The Language of Calamity If September were a movie still, it would’ve been one with the camera looking down at spit-polished shoes on a ledge over Wall Street. Dean praised the press for capturing the urgency of the moment.

4) The Audit Speaks! Dean told NPR’s On The Media a few days later that the press was rising to the occasion but that it still had much to answer for its failures in the run-up to the crisis.

5) Another Baseless Screed In the wake of Eliot Spitzer’s ignominious demise, the Journal’s editorial page jumped on the press for being “biased” in favor of the governor when he was a crusading attorney general. That didn’t fly.

6) Access Uber Alles A problematic Citigroup story from The New York Times gave Dean an entry point to explore one of the major structural problems of the business press: Its over-dependence on access to the powerful for stories.

7) Mad Money, Bad Blood Dean went behind the scenes of a feud between CNBC and Barron’s over the latter’s publication of a story that questioned the investing prowess of the network’s star, Jim Cramer.

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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.