We’ve previously noted CNNMoney.com’s tendency to act as a rewrite wire service — rehashing New York Times or Wall Street Journal stories as it strives to meet the unceasing demands of the continuous news beast.
But a headline on the CNNMoney home page this morning was particularly ironic: “Report: Goldman inspiring copycats.”
The headline in question tops a CNNMoney report, explaining that “Goldman Sachs’ focus on its profitable private equity business is spurring a wave of copycats among investment brokerage firms on Wall Street, according to the New York Times.”
The story went on to add that “Private equity has become the golden practice for Goldman Sachs, accounting for about 8 percent of the company’s pretax earnings,” that “competitor Morgan Stanley … is aggressively trying to rebuild the private-equity business the company recently spun off, the Times reported,” and that “The Times said the company is playing a fine balancing act between making money through private-equity deals and providing fee-based services to big private-equity firms that are clients.”
Thus, in its haste to report on the Times’ reporting on Goldman Sachs copycats, CNNMoney itself copycatted. The words were largely CNN’s, but all the essential details came from the Times.
The Times’ original story was more interesting and better-written (if a bit long), whereas CNNMoney’s quick summary was clunky and not as informative.
All of which leads us to again ask: Why bother?
Excluding the various links to Fortune, Fortune Small Business, Money, Business 2.0, CNN.com and SI.com at the bottom of the page (what about Teen People?), the CNNMoney homepage offered 36 news features as of 10:30 this morning. Fourteen of those were items from other Time Warner news sources, and nine were Reuters wire stories. That left ten CNNMoney originals (including an early-morning market report, “Help! I need a new car now” and “Can vegetable-oil cars save the world?”) and three CNNMoney newspaper rewrites, including the Times summary, a piece based on the work of the Detroit News, and another attributed to the Wall Street Journal.
While we suppose these rewrites further the CNNMoney brand, they are far from necessary or enticing reading, and in fact are rather pointless. Instead, CNNMoney might as well devote an entire section of its site to news from the Times or Journal — complete with actual links to the stories.
Edward B. Colby was a writer at CJR Daily.
Or, better, CNNMoney could beef up its site, which already draws on a wealth of material from across Time Warner, with more original reporting — and leave the journalists-writing-about-journalists business to us.