Business journalists and recession

February 22, 2008
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Forbes Publisher Rich Karlgaard thinks business journalists are stirring up recession talk.

In a column this week with a takeout headlined â??Business press incompetence and fear,â?? Karlgaard advises against believing everything one reads.

Hereâ??s what he writes:

â??Want to know the truth about business journalists? Most of us are failed sportswriters. There are exceptions, and a good many are found between these pages and at Forbes.com. Think about what it takes to be a first-rate business journalist. One must be facile with numbers and financial statements and have the confidence to talk to CEOs, high-level executives, board members, analysts and so forth. One must delve deeply into the industry one writes aboutâ??what is the competitive landscape, what are the technological disruptions on the road ahead? It is also critical that one have a coherent global economic view to be able to put a story into context. And one must be a good storyteller.

â??Now, if one possesses all of these talents, what are the chances one goes into the low-paying field of journalism? Not great. One instead becomes a Wall Street analyst, a Booz Allen consultant or just goes into business, perhaps to raise money and start a company. Low-paying journalism can't compete for pick of the litter. (Unless it's Forbes, where journalists flock to a higher moral purpose!)

â??The thin talent pool in business journalism combines with two other forces: Journalism is populated by left-of-center people, many of whom are hostile to business; and traditional journalism itself faces threats of disruption from the Internet, leaving business journalists in a fearful mood, which gets projected into their stories.â??

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