Good Show by the Journal Today

Dean Starkman tipped his hat to a Wall Street Journal story this morning on Detroit, part of a string of good urban-affairs reporting he’s noticed there recently.

More broadly, today’s copy of the Journal is just a really good paper. The front page has two (business) news stories, one of which has a classic WSJ anecdote on Ken Lewis’s short-lived beard signaling his tenure might not last much longer.

The leder, on the blossoming of the art scene in China over the last decade is interesting and there’s a great Barry Newman A-hed, to boot.

Inside on A3, Bob Hagerty has a good story on how banks are increasingly writing down their mortgage assets and modifying mortgages, including reducing principal, for homeowners in trouble. There are a couple of good second-day stories packaged inside with the Ken Lewis jump, including one that shows pretty clearly what an unwieldy Too Big to Fail monster he created and questions whether anyone can manage it.

Then there’s the Detroit schools story Dean mentioned and on the Currents page a good look at non-college-educated males and their dimmed prospects for work now that their biggest employer, construction, has collapsed. The Journal goes to ground zero of the bust, Naples, Florida, to survey the impact on the working class.

Finally, on the Money & Investing front, Leslie Scism and Randall Smith have a good explainer on re-remics, looking skeptically at a Wall Street up to its old tricks: Shuffling paper around, reaping fees, and manipulating loopholes to make their balance sheets look better. It’s worth keeping a close eye on these things.

As Dean said earlier, we’ve been highly critical of the changes Murdoch has made to the paper. But this is just solid work.

More, please.

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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.