Recently I was talking to someone about the mainstream press's coverage of last September's earth-shaking events, and that got me thinking about what the major newspapers were highlighting on their front pages. I thought it would be interesting to see, with the benefit of hindsight, what they were highlighting and how important they thought it was. So here are the front pages (above the fold) of the Wall Street Journal, New York Times, and Washington Post on various days in the financial crisis. I couldn't find PDFs of the Financial Times from last September, which is unfortunate (although FT employees should feel free to help me out on that front!). I also included the full front page of the USA Today from September 15, 2008—the day after Lehman filed for bankruptcy—because it's just too damn funny.
Aside from the USA Today's September 15 debacle, I particularly enjoyed the NYT's front page from Thursday, September 18th. That Wednesday was probably the most terrifying day of the financial crisis—there was a massive run on money market funds, WaMu put itself up for sale, 3-month T-bills went to zero, Libor-OIS spiked up dramatically. And yet the second-largest headline on the NYT's front page the next day is: "McCain Seen as Less Likely to Bring Change, Poll Finds." Classic. Something also tells me the Washington Post wishes it hadn't dedicated the second-biggest headline on September 15th to....the Redskins game.
I'll leave the more substantive critiques to the journalists though.
Monday, September 15, 2008 — Lehman files for bankruptcy. Some other stuff happens too.
Thursday, September 18, 2008 — A massive run on money market funds is underway after the Reserve Primary Fund “broke the buck,” WaMu puts itself up for sale in a Hail Mary play, 3-month T-bills go to zero, the Libor-OIS spread spikes up 300 bps. One of the scariest days of the crisis, without question.
Friday, September 19, 2008 — Plans for a system-wide rescue are leaked. (Thanks, Senator Schumer!)
September 25, 2008 — Politicians and political pundits thrust themselves into the financial crisis. Idiocy ensues.
September 30, 2008 — The day after the House stunned the world by voting down the first TARP.
October 2, 2008 — TARP finally passes.
October 14, 2008 — The first TARP equity injections are announced.