Friday, June 1, 2007

Power Journalists

cover Wall Street, not the White House.

From Howie's Kurtz's book, The Fortune Tellers: Inside Wall Street's Game of Money, Media, and Manipulation (2000):

When journalists cover politics, their outsider role is clearly defined. No single reporter can affect White House policies or a candidate's campaign through mere analysis or commentary. True, if several news organizations pound away in unison, they can put an issue on the national agenda or throw a politician on the defensive. But such efforts can be measured only roughly, through the fleeting snapshot of opinion polls. Much of the public distrusts the press, muting the impact of a concerted editorial attack on the president or other national figures. In this realm, journalists are scorekeepers and second-guessers and naysayers, and their influence is ephemeral and diffuse.

In the business arena, however, financial journalists are players. They make things happen instantaneously, and their impact is gauged not by subjective polls but by the starker standard of stock prices. A single negative story, true or not, can send a company's share price tumbling in a matter of minutes. A report about a possible takeover attempt can immediately pump up a stock, adding billions of dollars to a company's net worth. The clout of financial journalists affects not just the corporate bottom line but the hard-earned cash of millions of average investors. In business, unlike politics, the reporting of rumors is deemed fair game, since rumors, even bogus ones, move markets. And in an age of lightning-quick Internet reports, saturation cable coverage, and jittery day traders, moving the market is a remarkably easy thing to do.