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February 19, 2014

Must-Read: ‘The Watchdog that Didn’t Bark’

The Watchdog that Didn’t Bark,” a new book by Dean Starkman, examines why the financial media failed to report on the looming financial crash before it was too late. The editor of the Columbia Journalism Review, Starkman divides journalism into two categories: accountability reporting and access reporting. In the run up to the 2008 crisis, “access reporting” became the default mode of the business press, too enamored of their high-profile sources to investigate and report on the many signs of the coming catastrophe. 
For anyone interested in how the business press covered the crash, the media’s responsibility to inform the public, and the future of investigative journalism, “The Watchdog that Didn’t Bark” is a must-read. Get it today from Columbia University Press or Amazon.
Dean Starkman also wrote an article for New Republic that exposes the big lie of the post-crash economy: that everyone is to blame for the financial crisis. In fact, not everyone is to blame. While some borrowers knowingly took out riskier loans than they could afford, a majority of borrowers were victims of the risky behaviors of Wall Street.
Reviews of “The Watchdog that Didn’t Bark”:
“Here is the missing piece in the financial-crisis mystery: how did our vaunted business-journalism sector manage to miss the problem with mortgage-backed investments? The answer, as Starkman shows us in this amazing autopsy, is that the business outweighs the journalism and that it is getting worse, not better, as we go forward.”Thomas Frank, author of Pity the Billionaire: The Hard-Times Swindle and the Unlikely Comeback of the Right
“Read Starkman’s powerful and disturbing analysis of how business journalism came to write for an audience of investors, not citizens. You may not share his every judgment, but this account has the advantage of being both true and fascinating.”Michael Schudson, Columbia University
“Starkman is literally a reporter’s reporter. As such, he gets to the bottom of the story of how the U.S. business press could miss the most important economic implosion of the past eighty years until it was too late, and he does so with prose that is intelligent, engaging, and erudite. I recommend The Watchdog without reservation.”Eric Alterman, Brooklyn College
“With American journalism at sea, here comes a navigator who really knows its mission, the riptides it is facing, and the ports it must reach. Starkman tells it all with the heart, clarity, and dry wit that redeem business journalism even while showing how it lost its anchor and compass.” Jim Sleeper, former editor and columnist at Newsday and the New York Daily News
The Watchdog that Didn’t Bark, given its in-depth analysis across the landscape, steeped in history, and Starkman’s keen understanding of the business of journalism, can stand as a potentially enduring case study of what went wrong and why.” Alec Klein, director of The Medill Justice Project and award-winning investigative reporter formerly with The Washington Post


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