the audit

Audit Notes: Scotland Yard Thugs, Reuters Raises Its Sights, An NYT Miss

September 16, 2011

It looks like they ought to just shut Scotland Yard down and start over from scratch.

The Metropolitan Police is using the UK’s Official Secrets Act, which is normally used for spying cases, to ask the courts to order The Guardian to reveal its sources on the Milly Dowler story. It’s a jaw-dropping abuse by an institution disgraced by its coverup of the Murdoch hacking scandal, which was exposed primarily by The Guardian.

Even if the paper succeeds in turning back the demand, it could have a chilling effect on sources’ willingness to expose corruption.

The Guardian itself calls it “an unprecedented legal attack on journalists’ sources.” Hero MP Tom Watson says it’s “an outrageous abuse and completely unacceptable.” And the journalists’ union calls it “a very serious threat to journalists” and a “vicious attempt to use the Official Secrets Act.”

Best of all, Guardian editor Alan Rusbridger says “We shall resist this extraordinary demand to the utmost.”

This is one to watch closely.

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— The Huffington Post’s Michael Calderone takes a good look at Reuters’ expansion, which is good news for business journalism:

Reuters’ recent hiring spree — including a handful of Pulitzer Prize-winners – has quickly gotten the media world’s attention. At the same time, Reuters has relaunched its website to better showcase its vast reporting in a more consumer-friendly way, stepped up social media efforts and increased analysis, opinion and enterprise reporting — all elements that may play better on the web than in straight wire copy.

Reuters isn’t giving up on breaking financial news that paying subscribers want or reporting international wire stories that cash-strapped newspapers, lacking foreign budgets, increasingly need. However, Deputy Editor-in-Chief Paul Ingrassia says the company wants to go beyond breaking news. “I think what we’re making a bigger effort to do is not only be first with events,” Ingrassia said, “but very quickly and analytically … report the meaning and impact of those events.”

And there’s this about the hiring they’ve done from The Wall Street Journal:

One of Adler’s goals as editor-in-chief is to increasingly tap into the vast amount of data within Thomson Reuters to produce articles of interest to subscribers. But first Adler had to build a new editorial leadership team — one that’s looking like the Wall Street Journal in exile. Ingrassia spent over three decades at the Journal and Dow Jones, where he won a Pulitzer for his coverage of the auto industry and later ran Dow Jones Newswires. Three other former Journal staffers are on board, too: former Chief Operating Officer Stuart Karle, data editor Reginald Chua, and enterprise editor Mike Williams.

These days, media executives often joke about how former Journal staffers now run everything except the Journal. Bloomberg Chief Content Officer Norman Pearlstine previously held the top job at the paper, and former Journal reporter Matthew Winkler is Bloomberg’s editor-in-chief. Jill Abramson and Marcus Brauchli, the top editors at the New York Times and Washington Post, respectively, also hail from the Journal.

The positive changes have been obvious for at least a year now. The enterprise team under Jim Impoco did a lot of great work, and is continuing to do so.

— Dean Baker blows up the core paragraph of an New York Times story this morning on Denmark electing a center-left government.

Here’s the NYT:

For Denmark, a nation of 5.5 million people, the election turned on the issue that has also divided many other Western nations struggling with low growth, large government deficits and historic levels of national debt: what mix of government spending and tax policies to adopt in order to restore economic health and avoid slipping further toward a crisis like Greece’s.


According to the IMF, Denmark’s debt to GDP ratio is projected to be just over 4 percent at the end of 2011. By comparison, Greece’s debt to GDP ratio is 150 percent. Greece’s annual interest burden is considerably larger than Denmark’s debt.

That’s national debt, folks. Not deficit. Ouch.

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.