As the recent arrest of Danny Pang proved, regulators are frequently behind the media when it comes to discovering and prosecuting business malfeasance. Pang’s fraud was first reported by WSJ over a week ago. He was finally arrested yesterday.
So what happens to enforcement as newsrooms lay off journalists? SEC Chair Mary Schapiro is worried.
Her message to journalists: come work for us!
Reuters: ….speaking a day after Conde Nast announced the closure of its glossy business magazine Portfolio only about two years after it launched, held out some hope for the business reporting trade. She said that some journalists should consider applying for jobs at the SEC.
“Investigative journalism actually would be a pretty interesting skill set for us to have. We’ve talked about financial analysis, we’ve talked about forensic accounting being skill sets that we really need — understanding of complex trading, strategies and systems, but it’s one of the things the SEC has to do. It has to really broaden its horizons and bring in people who think about things a little differently than it has historically.”
If the SEC is serious about hiring laid-off business reporters, that’s good news for job seekers. But how much of the success that journalists have in busting fraud is due to a “skill set” and how much is do to the process of journalism?
It’s all well and good to say you’re going to sic investigative journalists on bad businessmen, but a lot of what journalists discover comes in the context of more mundane work. We wouldn’t expect the SEC to actually have its own publication or blog (though that’s a good idea; it could go along with their Twitter), so it’d be hard for these journalists to actually apply their skills in a context that they can be used.
So far, attempts to create hermetically sealed investigative projects not attached to a normal day-to-day operation have been sketchy. Think: ProPublica, which has flat out got some stories wrong, or Mark Cuban’s BailoutSleuth, which has hardly made a noise.
Again though: Any entity offering jobs for journalists is good news.
(via Securities Docket)