Can’t really call it a happy anniversary. Five years ago this month is when the financial crisis started that sparked the Great Recession. Wall Street was faltering. Lehman Brothers filed for bankruptcy. AIG got an $85 billion federal reserve loan to stay afloat. Congress was debating TARP. The FDIC seized Washington Mutual. The mortgage meltdown was getting bad enough that the federal government nationalized Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac.
Business and economic news was on the front page a lot that month.
It calls to mind why business news is important, even if it isn’t on the front page of the newspaper.
As those “too-big-to-fail” banks started to fail, there were calls into the newsroom by readers wondering how their own bank was doing. We were able to tell callers that the local banks are fine. How did we know? We write about the earnings for First Bank of Georgia and Georgia Bank & Trust every three months.
We were paying attention even when there wasn’t a front- page crisis.
And we started writing stories that we never thought were necessary. My staff was producing articles on saving your house from foreclosure, rebuilding a life after bankruptcy and surviving the job market that started shedding thousands of jobs in a month.
Being a good watchdog is covering the news even when it may not matter to a larger populace. History has shown us that one day, it will matter to a lot of people who didn’t think it would.
Starting Monday, the daily business page is getting bigger, back to the size it was when I started here at The Chronicle more than six years ago. The business team has a bigger canvass to tell the local stories and have room for the big, national news.
And there’s going to be an emphasis on the markets and personal finance. You’ll begin to see columns from Associated Press market journalists and personal finance writers from the Chicago Tribune, Dallas Morning News and Detroit Free Press.
When you boil it down to its basic elements, business reporting is all about people and their money.