Chalk up The New York Times with a debit for not giving a credit.
The newspaper makes a small but not insignificant transgression by not name-checking a wire story in its Street Scene column.
Last week an item about Warren Buffett, bankers, and “poetic justice” appeared on the interwebs and in various newspapers following a speech on Wednesday in Toronto. CBC reported on it. Bloomberg reported on it. Reuters reported on it. The Reuters story was on the wires that afternoon with the money quote.
“It’s sort of a little poetic justice, in that the people that brewed this toxic Kool-Aid found themselves drinking a lot of it in the end,” he said in reference to some of the large investment banks that were involved in designing and marketing complex investments that have soured in recent months and have generated billions in losses.
Reuters updated with a full 500-word story with the byline Wojtek Dabrowski, which was printed in various newspapers on Thursday.
By the time it was published in the Times’s print edition on Friday, there was no reference to Reuters or any other wire service. Appearing in its Street Scene column that runs with the sub-head, “Highlights from DealBook at nytimes.com/dealbook,” The column led with an item headlined, “Warren Buffet: What Credit Crisis?” It does not appear online, so we’ve included the entire item, as it ran in the newspaper below:
Warren Buffett: What Credit Crisis?
Warren E. Buffett has largely dodged the subprime mortgage mess.
But that is not stopping him from taking shots at Wall Street banks that helped sow the seeds of the disaster — complex mortgage investments. Many of those investments have gone bad, leaving investors and the banks with large and growing losses.
“It’s sort of a little poetic justice, in that the people that brewed this toxic Kool-Aid found themselves drinking a lot of it in the end,” Mr. Buffett said at an investment conference in Toronto this week.
But for all the angst on Wall Street, Mr. Buffett does not see a squeeze in the credit markets. ”Money is available and it’s really quite cheap,” he said.
Mr. Buffett attributes the turmoil in the financial markets to the evaporation of ”dumb money.” By this he means the investors who chased tricky investments backed by shaky home loans, as well as complex corporate debt that is now almost impossible to sell.
With the dumb money out of the market, a wide range of companies, from investment banks to bond insurers, have been left high and dry. Not that Mr. Buffett minds: Berkshire Hathaway set up its own bond insurance business last month, and he can borrow money now at more attractive interest rates. MICHAEL J. de la MERCED
On Friday, Merced told us that while the Reuters story tipped him off, he went to a Bloomberg terminal where he listened to the audio of the event and wrote from that.
“It isn’t something we’d dealt with before,” said Merced. “Will we look at it and try to form a firmer policy? Yes.”
Fair enough. Not the end of the world. But news organizations that go to the trouble and expense of staffing news events should be acknowledged.
Give credit. Otherwise it’s a debit. Get it?
We’re a little disappointed in the Atlantic this month (except for a cheeky, category-defining article making the case for women over thirty to stop thinking of settling as a bad thing and “Marry Him!”)
Another article in the March issue (but not online), “The Next Slum,” gets a debit for twisting a current, transitory event into evidence of an epochal shift in the American landscape.