The Journal Overplays Its Harvard Scooplet

I can’t figure out why this Harvard endowment story is on page one of the Journal this morning. Two managers are leaving the endowment and it’s getting more cautious.

Well, blow me down!

It’s a scooplet, but who cares? Harvard’s woes have been widely reported on, and it’s utterly unsurprising that it’s reining in its risk. This is straight out of the FT’s playbook of putting undeserving “news” on page one.

The Journal quotes a “person familiar with the matter” for a good portion of its info. I’d wager that person is one of the exiting managers, neither one of who is quoted or declines comment in the piece.

At Harvard, Messrs. Seidner and Llodra have helped deliver strong returns and had wanted to take advantage of a recent upswing in distressed credit markets, according to a person familiar with the matter.

The page-one placement seems to have been a last-minute move by the Journal. The story is on C1 in the four-star edition, but got bumped up to A1 in the five-star.

Should have left it alone.

For newsworthiness, the paper’s C1 story about three banks suspending their TARP dividend payments was much more interesting.

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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.