The Journal Trails Badly on the Foreclosure Scandal

Beaten by smaller business staffs and a blogger

So we’ve got a nationwide scandal in the still-crippled industry that caused the crisis in the first place—a scandal with potentially systemic (meaning crisis-causing) implications. And how has our leading financial newspaper covered it?

Well it hasn’t, really. Not much, anyway.

The Wall Street Journal hasn’t had a single page one piece on the scandal, which is now a couple of weeks old. And the paper has had just one section-front story on it: Wednesday’s good piece in Money & Investing on how mortgage-securities investors are threatened by it.

Not that there’s been much inside coverage, either.

There’s an A3 news story today. There was an inside story yesterday from the Bay Area that touches around the edges of the scandal but, bizarrely, doesn’t even mention it. On Monday there was a decent feature, also on A3. There was a 700-word C5 story a couple of weeks ago, and other than three or four FT-length news stories, that’s it.

Compare that to The New York Times and Washington Post which (especially the Post) have a fraction of the business staff that the Journal has.

The Times has put the story on a section front eight times, including twice on the front page this week.

The Post has done even better. I count four page one stories on the scandal, including an agenda-setting one on September 23, and several other major pieces.

The Journal is getting its clock cleaned on this story. (For that matter, so has the Financial Times, although it has put the story on page one once, and has the excuse of being based in the UK). And not just by biggies like the Times and the Post. Go click the real estate keyword over at Yves Smith’s Naked Capitalism and look how outclassed it has been by a single blogger.

Admittedly, Smith has done yeoman’s work on this story, but she’s one person. It’s time for the Journal to flex its muscles on this one.

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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.