Thursday, December 13, 2007

CJR's Audit on ParkerVision Coverage

CJR's Audit section has a smart item today on a short Reuters article that otherwise would have drawn little attention. But Audit writer Elinore Longobardi correctly notes that "it displays two unfortunate tendencies of the business press: to sell short-sellers short and, sometimes, to short-arm warranted criticism of business leaders."

At issue is a tough, sharp article on a company called ParkerVision by an equally tough and sharper reporter at Barron's, my old colleague Bill Alpert. Reuters picked up on the article and, in so doing, slanted its piece in favor of the company.

The Audit observed:

Shorts play a useful and important role in rooting around for, and sometimes detecting, fraud—or at least over-hyped shares among the 10,000 or so publicly traded firms, especially the smaller ones. That’s why some business reporters, especially those with an investigative bent, use them regularly as sources, often with journalistically profitable results.

To be sure, short-sellers are outside the mainstream, and the field has attracted at least its fair share of quick-buck artists and sleaze bags. But an ethical short-seller is on the same moral plane as an ethical long investor.
This is further indication of the change of direction of CJR Audit, which produced a number of strange articles under its previous editor -- sometimes showing a lack of understanding of financial journalism, and a hostility to tough reporting. But this Audit item indicates that the website is being reinvigorated, and quite dramatically, by new editor Dean Starkman. Bravo.

© 2007 Gary Weiss. All rights reserved.

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Wall Street Versus America was published by Penguin USA on April 6.
Click here for its listing and here for more information on the book, from my web site,

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