Facing the Fracture: Media & Economic Understanding

Journalists are under intense pressure to analyze and explain the fast-moving events of the Great Recession, yet do so while their own future and business model is up for debate. This unprecedented situation has produced extraordinary reporting and raised questions about the role that the business press needs to play in order to fulfill its duties as the Fourth Estate.

Agenda | Speakers

April 6, 2010 | SIPA Rm. 1501

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This event will bring together top journalists, scholars, and activists for a day of dynamic public discussion about the role of the media in covering the ongoing financial crisis.

9:00    Opening Remarks by Anya Schiffrin and Andrew Rich

9:30    Q&A with Arianna Huffington, The Huffington Post, and Bill Grueskin, Academic Dean of the Graduate School of Journalism

10:45  Newsroom Realities

Although little academic research has been done, the data suggest that journalists face increased pressure during economic crises.  Information about sensitive topics can be harder to obtain, sources stop returning phone calls, and government officials increase their attempts to spin reporters.  At the same time, media outlets worry about the fall of advertising revenues and layoffs.  How does this crisis compare to others?  What are the constraints journalists are facing today?

Panelists: Chrystia Freeland, US Managing Editor of the Financial Times; Professor Vanessa Perry, George Washington University; Michael Massing, contributor to Columbia Journalism Review; Chi Chi Wu, National Consumer Law Center; Michael Hudson, Center for Responsible Lending; Chris Roush, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill

Moderator: Anya Schiffrin, Director of the Media and Communications Program at Columbia University's School of International and Public Affairs

12:00  Broadening the Coverage

There has been a lot of criticism of the US financial press for not seeing the crisis coming and for being "captured" by finance and mainstream thinking.  But the economic crisis has been a chance for many reporters to broaden out their coverage and write about Main Street as well as Wall Street.  Has coverage broadened enough?  Are these changes in coverage here to stay or will it be back to business as usual once the crisis ends?

Panelists: Peter S. Goodman, New York Times; Alyssa Katz, New York University; Jeff Madrick, Roosevelt Institute; Robert Friedman, Bloomberg; Steve Pearlstein, Washington Post

Moderator: Dean Starkman, The Audit

1:30    Lunchtime talk with Joseph E. Stiglitz, University Professor and Senior Fellow at the Roosevelt Institute, and Martin Wolf, Financial Times

2:45   The Internet and Economic Reporting

Around the world, the Internet has opened up analysis of the economic crisis in unprecedented ways.  In China, Vietnam and many other countries, criticisms of government economic policy that would never be seen in the official press are being aired online.  In the US, Talking Points Memo, Huffington Post, and a host of other sites have led the way and advanced much of the debate on economic policy.  Bus is there great investigative reporting on the crisis happening online?  Or is it largely opinion and commentary?

Panelists: Julia Angwin, The Wall Street Journal; James Ledbetter, The Big Money; Ed Harrison, Creditwritedowns.com; Yves Smith, Naked Capitalism

Moderator: Lynn Parramore, Editor of New Deal 2.0

4:00   The Crisis around the World

In some parts of the world, such as China, the economic crisis has been covered in depth by official media and bloggers.  In other places, like the Middle East, the crisis has not been a major story.  In Central and Eastern Europe, advertising revenues have fallen dramatically, newsrooms have been slashed, and news coverage cut back.  This panel will explore how the economic story has been covered and what shrinking revenues have done to the quality of reporting.

Panelists: Reg Chua, Editor of the South China Morning Post, Hong Kong; Pierre de Gasquet, Les Echos, Paris; Steve Schifferes, City University, London; Dame Babou, Sud Quotidien, Dhakar; Sabah Hamamou, Al-Ahram, Cairo; Yang Zheyu, Caixin Media, Beijing

Moderator: Rana Foroohar, Senior Economics Editor, Newsweek International

5:30   Closing Conversation with Amy Goodman, host and executive producer of Democracy Now!


Room 1501, School of International and Public Affairs, 420 West 118th Street (between Amsterdam and Morningside)

Take the 1 Train to West 116th Street, Columbia University

*The Closing Conversation with Amy Goodman will take place on the 4th floor of the International Affairs building, in the Altschul Auditorium.