The Wall Street Journal has kept us gripped all day with frequent updates on Lehman Brothers– jam-packed with juicy quotes from employees like this: “If we don’t get bought in the next 24 hours, it’s over.” That awesome soundbite came from someone outside the bank who Journal reporters overheard talking on his cell phone.
New York magazine’s Daily Intel blog, however, clucks about this, blasting the WSJ for its new, um, FOX-like, reporting:
NYMag.com: OK, so we’re a little slow today (we had deli coffee this morning), but we just realised The Wall Street Journal quoted a guy they eavesdropped on in their story about Lehman Brothers that went up a little while ago. Actually, two: They end with a quote from a guy standing “waiting to order food … at a fast-food vendor across the street” whom they do not identify and whom it’s unclear knows he’s being quoted at all: “At some point, where does it stop?” he says.
Wait a second. How does the Journal know dude wasn’t talking about all of the internecine sex stuff on Gossip Girl the other night? And furthermore, what’s up with this weird aerial shot of the staff of Lehman in a meeting today? Did they hire a helicopter or just a guy with a long-range lens? Where did they hear the Bank of America thing, anyway? Someone’s hairdresser? Are these the kinds of tabloid tactics we should expect from Rupert Murdoch’s Journal now? And if so, what’s next? Crotch shots of Dick Fuld getting out of his limo? Not that we wouldn’t be down with that, but still: Is this an appropriate way to report a story in which rumours and panic have been a major problem? Jeez Louise, guys. Someone needs to be responsible here. It can’t all fall on poor [Andrew Ross] Sorkin.
We loved those on-scene quotes. But we would certainly would have expected something different from the old WSJ. By contrast, check out one of the stories in Friday’s NY Times about the Lehman mess:
“Everyone is walking around like they have just been Tasered,” said one Lehman employee, who, like many interviewed for this article, declined to be named because he was not authorised to talk publicly. “Everyone was always hoping we would pull through. Now, that is not really an option.”
On Lehman’s third- and fourth-floor trading floors overlooking Broadway’s lights in Midtown Manhattan, traders continued working at their terminals, or at least were giving the appearance of doing so. At the same time, many polished their résumés and contacted recruiters…
As widely respected and liked as Mr. Fuld has been at the firm, now that the cold prospect of losing a life savings in Lehman stock has become more of a reality, many employees have grown resentful.
“We feel like we have been controlled by events and haven’t controlled them,” said one rank-and-file employee. “And it has just been the most punitive market. Is there frustration with the management team? Of course.” Another employee who left Lehman earlier this year lamented that he had put enough faith in the firm to retain shares — a decision he is paying for. “My children’s education fund is wiped out,” said this person.
“I’m not a millionaire like a lot of these guys. Of course this is on Dick’s hands,” he said, referring to Mr. Fuld. “It all happened on his watch.”
The investment bank said that Mr. Fuld was not available for comment.
Ok, they did still use the same weird aerial shot of Lehman’s office, which Reuters is actually responsible for, but still, it at least seems the employees the Times quotes know they’re talking to a newspaper about the potential collapse of the bank.
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