David Sirota: Naked Capitalism – Financial Journalists’ Secret Weapon

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By David Sirota, a senior editor at International Business Times. His most recent book is Back to Our Future. You can follow him on Twitter at @davidsirota

It is no coincidence that the ongoing journalism and financial crises are happening at roughly the same time. Though the government is supposed to be a watchdog, regulatory capture has often turned it into a lapdog — the kind which, in the words of This American Life, “licks the face of an intruder, and plays catch with the intruder, instead of barking at him.” That has left the financial press to serve as the last line of defense to spotlight lawbreaking, malfeasance and fraud. And quite often, the financial press has been the watchdog that didn’t bark.

There are many reasons for the media’s silence — some of it is their version of regulatory capture, but a lot of it has to do with resources and expertise, or, really, lack thereof. In short, the financialized economy is now so complex that it typically requires major resources and expertise to dig up and report out major financial stories, and to do so in a way that allows an audience of non-experts (read: the general public) to understand the significance of the news at hand. Those challenges — along with the inherent perils that come with questioning the most powerful industry on the planet — are often prohibitive barriers to investigative journalism focused on the financial world.

For this reason, the relatively few news outlets and journalists who scratch and claw to overcome those barriers must be cherished — and, more importantly, supported. Naked Capitalism is among the most significant of those outlets, and not just for the huge stories it breaks, but also for its critical place in the small-but-crucial ecosystem of Wall Street-focused investigative journalism.

If you are reading this post, you are a likely a regular reader of this site, so I don’t have to spell out the reference to critical stories broken here — you already know them. The latter point, however, may be more difficult to detect, but rest assured: It is equally important.

To illustrate, I’ll just speak from my own experience as an investigative journalist covering the intersection of politics and finance for an outlet that is committed to serious in-depth reporting.

First and foremost, this site — with its incredible detail and expertise — has served as a source of ongoing education that has greatly enhanced my work. For instance, Naked Capitalism has helped me to contextualize information I’ve dug up, but previously did not fully comprehend. It has also led me to explore topics in my reporting that I had previously not even considered. I have no doubt that other investigative journalists have found this site to be a similar resource in their own work.

Similarly, if you think of the financializing economy as one giant story for the history books, then think of Naked Capitalism as one of the most crucial narrators. By that I mean that the site is a place that takes the key nuggets of news extracted, mined and smuggled out of the financial world, and then places them into the larger context of the epic tale, thus advancing the story. Without a place like this, all we would have are sporadic and non-sequitur-ish spasms of news, but little ability to follow the ongoing tale, and even less ability to appreciate how any one news item fits into the larger story of economic transformation.

So if you can give a little, give a little. If you can give more, give more. If you can give a lot, give a lot. You are investing in helping those of us in the media who want to tell the real story of big money drives this economy.

If, like me, you believe that story must be exposed, then make a donation to Naked Capitalism’s annual fundraiser. Without rare places like this committed to doing the heavy lifting of serious financial reporting, we will never be able to know how — and for whom — our economy really works. But with a place like this, there is a good chance that the facts will slowly but surely get out.

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  1. susan the other

    Mr. Sirota, thank you for your stuff on Chris Christie, et.al. Of course you know that everything you say above is preaching to the choir!

  2. Marcie

    David Sirota has ruffled feathers in Colorado; it is always refreshing to hear his voice. Many of the Democrats in this state are miffed because he tells the truth. To them I say tough, to David I say keep speaking the truth.

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