Best of 2011: Ryan Chittum

The Audit's deputy editor picks his top CJR stories from the past year

Rupert Murdoch and the Corporate Culture of News Corp. On the pressing question of how much Rupert Murdoch is a part of the corrupt culture at News Corporation, I wrote that Murdoch is the culture. Nodding to Jay Rosen, I posited that its entire reason for being is to reflect, imitate, and amplify Murdoch himself, which is how a single individual can end up wielding such outsized, globe-spanning power.

The Murdoch Pushback: Attacking the Press: As friends, sympathizers and people on Rupert Murdoch’s payroll attacked the media for blowing the hacking scandal out of proportion, I rounded up publicly reporteed evidence of the crimes and coverups at News International to show how this is one of the biggest media stories in history.

Nonprofit News and the Tax Man: The burgeoning nonprofit-news movement faces a new hurdle: The IRS, which is scrutinizing new applications for tax-exempt status—and delaying them for years.

CNBC Misleads on “Welfare State” Dominance: I figured this false CNBC story, headlined “Welfare State: Handouts Make Up One-Third of U.S. Wages,” was genetically engineered to go viral and tried to head it off by showing how wrong it was. It went big anyway, on blogs and in the mainstream press, and I followed up on what it showed about how A Zombie Lie Is Born.

The Myth of Income Equality, Courtesy of AEI: The think tank showed how to combine the worst tendencies of Slate (contrarian shtick), Business Insider (misleading, hyped headlines), and think tanks (paid-for spin), and put it in internet-friendly listicle. I followed up after AEI responded.

Elizabeth Warren Is Smeared, and the Press Is Along for the Ride: Press coverage of Warren’s congressional testimony was about as pure an example of he said-she said reporting as you’ll see and a good showcase for why such false equivalence is a bad thing for readers.

ESPN Obscures Its Own Role in the Conference Realignment Mess: As television money and ESPN’s business relationships helped cause major realignments in college sports conferences this year, I took a look at how poorly the network covered its own role.

GE Flubs a Pushback Against The New York Times
: General Electric went into full public-relations pushback mode after the Times’s damaging story on its corporate income taxes. In doing so, the company, unable to get its own story straight, compounded the damage.

McClatchy Misses on Cotton Speculators: The newspaper chain asserted that Wall Street caused a cotton bubble, but didn’t back it up well enough, as a look at historical prices shows.

Gannett’s Multimillionaires Regret to Inform 700 Workers of Their Layoffs: As the newspaper giant cut more jobs, I took a look at its securities filings to calculate how many jobs its lavishly paid executives could have saved by becoming mere millionaires.

A Triangle Shirtwaist-Like Disaster, Buried By the U.S. Press: What a tragedy in Bangladesh shows about trade and the modern economy—and how the press covers it.

The Shorter-Form Journal: A look at how The Wall Street Journal’s trademark longform journalism has declined in the Murdoch era.

NYT Paywall to Other Papers: “Copy Me!” A look at the numbers shows the Times’s new paywall is an unqualified success.

Business Insider and Financial Press Sensationalism: How Henry Blodget & Co. stroke the id of the internet.

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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: , , , ,