By Dan Kennedy • The press, politics, technology, culture and other passions

Beam and Kennedy, together at last

Boston Globe columnist Alex Beam and I both have book reviews in the new issue of Columbia Magazine. Me first. I wrote about “Bad News: How America’s Business Press Missed the Story of the Century,” edited by Anya Schiffrin, director of the International Media, Advocacy, and Communications program at Columbia’s School of International and Public Affairs.

The book is a collection of essays and articles that examine whether the media could have done a better job of reporting the disintegration of the American (and world) financial system in advance of the 2008 collapse. My conclusion, based on the evidence Schiffrin presents: yes, but it’s naive to think it would have made all that much difference in the age of “Squawk Box.” We believed what we wanted to believe.

Beam has the fun assignment: “An Accidental Sportswriter,” by Robert Lipsyte, who made his bones at the New York Times yet somehow found himself fending off both Rupert Murdoch and David “Son of Sam” Berkowitz in a later incarnation at the New York Post.

The highlight, at least for me, is Beam’s recounting of Lipsyte’s gently worded but devastating observation of how the sainted A.J. Liebling was so skilled at getting good quotes. I’ll be thinking about that all day.

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  1. Rick Peterson

    Great stuff, Dan. Minor quibble: I think financial writers miss an opportunity re the younger generation. The financial illiteracy of students is one of the great untold stories in America. That their largely-progressive teachers are often not big fans of the warts-and-all capitalist system plays a role, IMHO. If some of these people had known why their parents and grandparents put down 10-20+% on that first house, they might have waited and done the same, while ignoring the Wall St. snake-oil salesmen preaching high leverage.
    Re Beam: the guy is a treasure. Sounds like he also has encountered “housepets” in newsrooms.

    • Dan Kennedy

      @Rick: We put down 20 percent because we had to. It wasn’t superior morals.

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