On Talking Points Memo, Dan Gillmor makes some stinging points about the media's complicity in manufacturing the financial crisis by unquestioningly promoting reckless bubble spending while pooh-poohing any idea that the bill would come due some day:
When we can predict an inevitable calamity if we continue along the current path, we owe it to the public to do everything we can to encourage a change in that destructive behavior.
In practice, this means activism. It means relentless campaigning to point out what's going wrong, and demanding corrective action from those who can do something about it.
So in Florida, Arizona and California, among other epicenters of the housing bubble, newspapers might have told their readers — including governmental officials — the difficult truth. They could have explained, again and again, that the housing bubble would inevitably lead, at least locally, to personal financial disaster for many in their regions, not to mention fiscal woes for local and state governments. How many should have done this, given the media's at least partial reliance on advertising from those who profited from the bubbles? Any that cared to do their jobs.
Some plain-as-day woes don't present any financial conflicts. For example, the threat to New Orleans from hurricane-created flooding was clear long before Katrina, and the New Orleans Times-Picayune did run a series of articles warning of what might happen years before the hurricane struck. What it didn't do was follow up in the relentless kind of way that might have spurred local, state and federal action to prevent or mitigate the inevitable disaster.