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Saturday, September 27, 2008

Reporting the Crisis

In the last few weeks, as the financial crisis has unfolded, the narratives in New York and DC have been fast-moving and often opaque to outsiders. My main sources of news are the websites of the New York Times and the Washington Post, and flipping back and forth between them over this period, there has frequently been a startling difference in how events are being portrayed as one's reportage follows the story just a bit closer than the other.

It's my observation that the Times has generally been the one out front. For instance, two Sundays ago when Lehman Brothers was swirling down the toilet and Merrill Lynch being swallowed by BofA, the Times carried an article about tense negotiations and looming danger under a banner headline. The Post, I recall, had an article somewhere down the front page that was much more vague and did not convey the same sense of urgency. It's not that the Post was really that far behind, but things have been moving so fast that any lag means you can be telling a very different story. This dynamic seemed to continue even as the story moved onto their home turf in Washington, with the Times breaking the news of the collapse of the deal on Thursday well before the Post.

However, the Post has shown they have great sources in DC with a fascinating article today on how the negotiations played out when the presidential candidates were in town. The last page has some amazing details...

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