The Wall Street Journal is just one of many doing a lousy job of business reporting lately


7:15 AM, FRIDAY — I’m really not trying to start a bandwagon rally against The Wall Street Journal, which has long been one of my must-reads every morning — but their reporting lately is just not up to the standards it once was.
Without rehashing my comments earlier this week in this forum regarding the Journal reporting a story concerning how the distressed lists being used by many major mortgage insurers are impacting home buyers and sellers across the country — which came roughly two months after I reported the same story in this forum by posting an interview I did with Genworth Mortgage Insurance — today I’m shaking my head at the grade school reporting in a front page Journal story that’s basically heralding how tech stocks have weathered this turbulent market.
I’ve got to tell you, I read the story and shook my head the whole way through wondering if any one of the four reporters listed in the byline actually know how to interpret a quarterly report.
The story flatly names Microsoft, Google and IBM in the same sentence where it tells us that the quarterly reports yesterday are indicative of a trend that techs are “sustaining revenue growth.”
You’ve got to be kidding me.
While I won’t go so far as to accuse the Journal of trying to put lipstick on a pig — and it is true that techs are reaping some benefit from demand overseas — I believe the AP report paints a much more accurate account of the second quarter report Google released yesterday, which — for the record — came in below analysts’ expectations.
The AP story also reports that management at Google admits the current state of the economy was the likely culprit that is causing consumers to click less on Internet ads, which is where Google generates most of its profits.
But I shouldn’t be too harsh on the Journal, as I continually see reporters, such as Becky Quick this morning on CNBC, wasting ink or air time quoting politicians and Wall Streeters on their asinine opinions regarding whether the U.S. should lift its ban on drilling off the coast of most of the United States and open the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge for oil exploration. 
If you’re going to waste time reporting such a story, reporters should have an obligation to throw in a sentence pointing out that even if such a ban was immediately lifted this very second — all the drill-ships that currently exist are “booked solid for the next five years,” as The New York Times accurately reported back on June 19.
On my “to-do-due-diligence” list today is Merrill Lynch. While it’s certainly among the financials getting beaten up in this market, from what I can tell so far I believe it may have one of the best retail brokerages around. If that proves to be the case, and Merrill weathers this bearish market, it could be a stock a long way down the road I’d be happy I bought. Of course, just one of the questions needing an answer is “How much further might it go down first?”
Just remember the usual disclaimer not to base any of your investment decisions on anything you read in my little blog — do your own due diligence — or at least enough research to hire the right professional to do it for you.

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