At the Society of American Business Editors and Writers (SABEW) conference yesterday in Denver, the opening panel featured mainstream-media heavyweights admitting that journalists “blew” coverage of the financial crisis, that they missed the “big story” as it unfolded over the course of a decade.
A root problem, as TV journalist Allan Dodds Frank put it, was the “posture of reverence” adopted by business reporters toward their subjects, a posture that sees CEOs as stars and “corporations as sexy.”
And it’s a posture they’re not likely to shake, even now, as overcompensated Wall Street tycoons run for cover from angry government officials and as entire national economies built on U.S. models of high finance collapse.
The registration email for the conference, for example, included this instruction on attire:
We’re declaring the annual conference a “business casual” event. We want you to be comfortable, but not so casual that the visiting CEOs think we’re a bunch of slobs. So take a step up from the jeans and running shoes…
That’s the kind of air they breathe in Backwards Land!
Did it occur to any of the reporters at the conference that it’s the train-wreck CEO “slobs” in attendance who should be looking to impress the wrinkled members of the press?
On a related note: Conde Nast’s great, revealing but ill-timed Portfolio experiment — the glossy mag that celebrated the topic of finance and finance personalities more than actually reporting and analyzing finance news– that experiment has come to an end. Goodbye to the Vanity Fair of finance.