the audit

Audit Notes: Goldman’s Wells Notice, BP’s Wells Permits, Dogpile

June 1, 2010

Matthew Goldstein of Reuters reports that Goldman Sachs told Calpers, the California public-pension giant, in March that it wasn’t under investigation—six months after the SEC served it a Wells Notice formally telling the bank it was indeed under investigation.

Goldman (an Audit funder) never disclosed that Wells Notice to investors, who were blindsided when the SEC filed a fraud suit against it in April.

Why aren’t recipients required to disclose Wells Notices? That would be good for investors and the press.

— The Journal continues its excellent work on the BP disaster, reporting today that the company modified its drilling permits three times in the span of twenty four hours at one point days before the well blew.

This is not typical behavior, the Journal says.

One of the design decisions outlined in the revised permits, drilling experts say, may have left the well more vulnerable to the blowout that occurred April 20, killing 11 workers and leaving crude oil gushing into the Gulf of Mexico.

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And we have regulatory capture:

The Minerals Management Service approved all the changes quickly, in one instance within five minutes of submission.

Danny Sullivan reports on how a scoop of his got bounced through the echo chamber without attribution. He makes the excellent point that the mainstream media rips off stories, too.

Sullivan had reported on a woman is suing Google for giving her wrong map directions after she got hit walking on a highway. The Daily Mail yanked Sullivan’s image without linking or crediting him as did the Financial Post.

Not giving credit for a scoop is uncool, but it’s pretty low on the scale of journalistic sins. It is a nice shiv in the side of newspapers complaining about blogs and aggregators ripping them off.

But the bigger problem here is why so many media outlets saw fit to report on what looks like a pretty frivolous lawsuit. We have the aforementioned two papers, plus PC World, CBS, the Associated Press, CNET, AOL News, the New York Daily News, The Register, Fortune, Inc., Techdirt, the Toronto Star, the Salt Lake Tribune, and more. All doing some combination of new work and reiteration of what others had already said.

Does that very minor story really warrant such an international dogpile?

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.