Bad News

How America's Business Press Missed the Story of the Century

Anya Schiffrin (editor)

As the recent U.S. financial crisis unfolded, journalists struggled to keep up with the biggest story of the century. After the markets unraveled and the economy began spiraling downward, reporters raced to cover an unfamiliar cast of characters and an alphabet soup of derivatives and toxic financial instruments. And in this midst of this collapse, ironically, the business of journalism itself hit the rocks, as the mainstream media grappled with collapsing ad revenues and falls in circulation.

Faulted for cheerleading coverage that helped create the bubble, the business media came under siege from commentators across the political spectrum—epitomized by Jon Stewart’s now-famous attack on James Cramer for his uncritical coverage of Bear Stearns and other financial giants. Did the press fail in its critical role as it gave into the irrational exuberance that fed the bubble itself? How do we explain these failures?

The role of the business press in the current crisis strikes at the heart of the heated debate about the media’s role as guardians of our democratic society. With contributions—all but one original—from leading journalists and academics at the forefront of this issue, Bad News is the first attempt to navigate through a controversy that will be studied for decades to come.

About the Editor

Anya Schiffrin
Co-Director, Media Program
School of International and Public Affairs
Columbia University

Anya Schiffrin teaches at Columbia University's School of International and Public Affairs. She spent ten years working overseas as a journalist in Europe and Asia, writing for a number of different magazines and newspapers. She was bureau chief for Dow Jones Newswires in Amsterdam and Hanoi and wrote regularly for the Wall Street Journal. She was a Knight-Bagehot Fellow at Columbia University's Graduate School of Journalism in 1999-2000 and then a senior writer at the Industry Standard, covering banking and finance.

Publication Information

Type Books
Program -
Download 265kb pdf
Posted 01/25/11
Publisher The New Press
Year 2011
# Pages 240pp

A sort of 'All the President’s Men' for our time, and just the thing to lure bright young people into economics graduate programs and journalism school—if only there were jobs waiting on the other end.

- Kirkus Reviews