The New York Times and Wall Street Journal don’t agree on what happened yesterday with a new rule governing private-equity purchases of banks—or how to angle it anyway

Here’s the Times’s headline:

New Rules Restrict Bank Sales

And the Journal’s:

Rules Eased on Bank Buyouts

What gives?

This is the second time in less than a week the two giants have tussled. Last Friday we saw a disagreement over whether securitized loans or regular loans were waylaying banks (which soon enough turned into a disagreement between NYT and CJR).

This time it’s a matter of emphasis.

The WSJ’s angle plays up the fact that the new rules are less strict than what had been proposed earlier and calls this “a bid to tap a new and controversial source of capital for financial institutions.”

The NYT says, “New federal rules that might have encouraged private equity firms to snap up troubled banks could wind up keeping those buyers in their seats,” and downplays the fact that the rules are less restrictive than earlier drafts.

So who’s right? Take your pick. Nobody’s wrong here, although the Journal’s headline is misleading. I prefer the Times approach, though.

As does the Financial Times, which headlines its story “Buy-out firms face tougher capital conditions.”


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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 rc2538@columbia.edu. Follow him on Twitter at @ryanchittum.