Rolling Stone Goldman Sachs Muckracker Wins Hillman Foundation Sidney Award
~New Monthly Journalism Award Recognizes Social Justice Journalism~
“If America is circling the drain, Goldman Sachs has found a way to be that drain — an extremely unfortunate loophole in the system of Western democratic capitalism, which never foresaw that in a society governed passively by free markets and free elections, organized greed always defeats disorganized democracy…” –Matt Taibbi
The Hillman Foundation announced today (Monday, August 10) that Matt Taibbi is the winner of its July Sidney Award for “The Great American Bubble Machine,” a 9,966 word dissection of how Goldman Sachs has been manipulating markets to enrich itself since its founding in the 19th Century.
The Story appeared in the July 9, 2009 issue of Rolling Stone.
“Taibbi is the first journalist to use the right combination of history, intelligence, investigation and moral outrage to chart the remarkable depth and breadth of Goldman’s role in creating America’s financial meltdown,” said Sidney award judge Charles Kaiser.
Written with the passionate flourishes of New Journalism, Taibbi’s piece produced outrage from its subject and multiple attacks from financial journalists.
But as Dean Starkman wrote last week on the Columbia Journalism Review’s website,
Mainstream financial journalism is doing its level, eye-rolling, heavy-sighing best to stuff Matt Taibbi back into the alt-press hole he came from, but he’s not going along with it, and the mainstreamers in any case are making a big mistake….For all the clamor, criticism of what Taibbi’s actually written has been surprisingly weak. The best critics could offer was that Taibbi exaggerated Goldman’s particular role in this or that crisis and that financial crises are far too complex for this frame (or for them, I suspect, any frame at all)…Taibbi represents a challenge to the conventional business press’s increasingly narrow focus, its incrementalism, its concern with petty scoops at the expense of asking the big questions of the big institutions on its beat. The lesson of Taibbi is that if conventional business journalism is unwilling or unable to step back and take in the sweep of this crisis, and the systemic distortions that underlie it, somebody else will.
Taibbi’s work is one of the first to take a sweeping look at the causes and implications of the current financial crisis, uncovering links and patterns that mainstream reporters have failed to report on. The Rolling Stone article recalls that, in his classic work, The Great Crash, 1929, John Kenneth Galbraith wrote a chapter called “In Goldman Sachs We Trust.” The celebrated economist held up the Goldman-created Blue Ridge and Shenandoah trusts as classic examples of the insanity of leverage-based investment. The trusts, Galbraith wrote, were a major cause of the market’s historic crash; in today’s dollars, the losses the bank suffered totaled $475 billion. “It is difficult not to marvel at the imagination which was implicit in this gargantuan insanity,” Galbraith observed. “If there must be madness, something may be said for having it on a heroic scale.”
The Sidney is a new monthly award from the Hillman Foundation given to an outstanding piece of socially-conscious journalism in any medium that seeks to foster social and economic justice. Winners receive $500, a certificate designed by New Yorker cartoonist Edward Sorel, and a bottle of union-made wine.
Since 1950, the Sidney Hillman Foundation has celebrated the legacy and vision of union pioneer and New Deal architect Sidney Hillman. As founder and president of the Amalgamated Clothing Workers of America, and a founder of the Congress of Industrial Organizations (CIO), Hillman is considered one of America’s greatest labor leaders. His tireless efforts to bring dignity and respect to working people left a lasting legacy for the American public.
The Sidney, along with the annual Hillman Prizes in Journalism, honor journalists who demonstrate a similar sense of social responsibility, investigating and telling the difficult stories that need to be told. The Hillman Prizes are currently in six categories.
For more information and to submit please go to: http://www.hillmanfoundation.org/thesidney