Paul Steiger, Former Wall Street Journal Managing Editor, Tells Touro College Students Economic Picture Looks Bleak for Next Several Years
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Editor-in-Chief of Investigative Journalism Project Pro Publica Cautions Students on Job Market: “Expect Challenges; They Make You Tougher and Stronger.”
New York, N.Y. - Paul Steiger, former managing editor of the Wall Street Journal and now editor-in-chief of a new investigative journalism project, advised a gathering of Touro College MBA students Tuesday night to expect "accelerated challenges" due to the current economic crisis, which he predicted would not turn around for at least the next couple of years.
"It was easy 10 years ago, with your degree, to get nice-paying jobs right off the bat. It's not going to be as easy," said Mr. Steiger, a journalist for over 40 years who served as managing editor of the Wall Street Journal prior to the paper's acquisition by Rupert Murdoch's News Corporation last year.
"The last quarter century was extraordinary. Expect things to be a lot tougher," Mr. Steiger cautioned, as he took the students through a brief history of the nation's bouts of economic turmoil, ending with the current crises in the credit markets.
Mr. Steiger's comments, delivered to a packed room downtown on Wall Street at Touro's Graduate School of Business, launched the school's "Keynote Speakers Forum," designed to bring real world perspective to the school's MBA students.
Mr. Steiger said the credit markets are as "dysfunctional" as he has seen in his career, and "much more important than stocks to the economy." He blamed the problems on "misbehavior by the 'three R's' -- regulators, rocket scientists (designers of securities) and ratings agencies."
Referring to mortgage-backed and other synthetic financial instruments that are at the nucleus of the nation’s current economic woes, Mr. Steiger said: "The ability to unwind these artificial securities is limited and will take time. It will be years before this mess is fixed."
Mr. Steiger also discussed his new venture, Pro Publica, launched in January with $10 million in funding annually from The Sandler Foundation, begun by Herbert and Marion Sandler. The Sandlers were founders and co-CEOs of California's Golden West Financial Corporation, a savings-and-loan company, which they sold to Wachovia Corporation in 2006. Mr. Sandler serves as chairman of Pro Publica's board of directors, and Mr. Steiger as editor-in chief, president and CEO.
Mr. Steiger said Pro Publica was founded in part because the business model in news, particularly for metropolitan newspapers, has been severely damaged by the Internet.
"Advertisers and readers are going to the Web, where advertisers feel they can more accurately target their audiences and people can get their information for free," he said.
Two areas of news are forcing a particular challenge, according to Mr. Steiger: investigative and foreign reporting, which he said are relatively expensive to produce.
Pro Publica, Mr. Steiger added, plans to fill the gap in investigative journalism by "identifying abuses of power - whether in government, business, or non-profits. By exposing abuses of power, we will give the public the information it needs to affect change."
When fully staffed with 25 reporters and editors, Mr. Steiger said Pro Publica will be the largest effort in the country devoted solely to investigative reporting. Stories will be distributed through the Web and to major news organizations, perhaps including The New York Times, the Wall Street Journal, The Washington Post, and the PBS program Frontline.
During Mr. Steiger's tenure at the Wall Street Journal, the paper won 16 Pulitzer Prizes. He is the recipient of numerous journalism awards, and also chairman of the Committee to Protect Journalists, a New York-based nonprofit organization founded to promote press freedom around the world.
Located in the heart of Wall Street at 65 Broadway, Touro's Graduate School of Business welcomed its initial class of MBA students in fall 2005. The school offers an MBA with specializations in management, international business and entrepreneurship.