Thursday, October 23, 2008

Reporters: A tail of two types

I wrote an angst-filled piece a while ago titled "Reporters are idiots" and made that point using the coverage of the bailout package as my prime example. Today, I was at one point enthused by one example of good journalism and enraged by many examples of bad journalism.

First the bad:

Drudge and Limbaugh both picked up this link, and I now know why. It's a columnist who is just as ticked off about how the housing crisis has been covered and who has been blamed. It is reposted here in an Latter Day Saints publication. The writer, "Orson Scott Card, is a Democrat and a newspaper columnist" according the byline, and he laments in his opening about how journalism has fallen far from what he thought it was in the days of Watergate and "All the President's Men."
This housing crisis didn't come out of nowhere. It was not a vague emanation of the evil Bush administration.

It was a direct result of the political decision, back in the late 1990s, to loosen the rules of lending so that home loans would be more accessible to poor people. Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac were authorized to approve risky loans.

What is a risky loan? It's a loan that the recipient is likely not to be able to repay.

The goal of this rule change was to help the poor — which especially would help members of minority groups. But how does it help these people to give them a loan that they can't repay? They get into a house, yes, but when they can't make the payments, they lose the house — along with their credit rating.

They end up worse off than before.

This was completely foreseeable and in fact many people did foresee it. One political party, in Congress and in the executive branch, tried repeatedly to tighten up the rules. The other party blocked every such attempt and tried to loosen them.
He continues into a concise enumeration of the sins of Fred Raines, Chris Dodd and Barnie Frank, who resisted oversight for the "government sponsored companies" Freddie Mac and Fanny May, stating that its as if the pentagon was allowed to make political contributions in order to lobby for more defense spending (wouldn't the left howl at the thought).

And now the good.

Sam Taylor, of the Bellingham Herald is holding the Whatcom County Council's feet to the fire because of a pay-raise they approved without public discussion... See his work here. Good job Sam.

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