Shareholder Democracy, Does Gretchen Get It Right?

By David Larcker, Brian Tayan
2007 | Case No. CG09

By 2007, Gretchen Morgenson, assistant editor and columnist at The New York Times, had gained significant attention from business leaders, regulators, and academics for her coverage of a wide range of financial and governance issues. Morgenson wrote the majority of her articles about corporate malfeasance at the executive and board level, drawing attention to both prominent and lesser-known examples of misbehavior in corporate America. Not everyone, however, agreed with her depiction of and analytical approach to covering governance issues. Critics charged that, although many of the trends she pointed to were worthy of debate, her articles did not appropriately take a comprehensive view or acknowledge the broad implications of her positions. To some extent, Morgenson’s critics were as aggressive in their rebuttal as she was in her assertions. Outside observers were left to wonder whether the polemics employed by both parties helped to further a broad public understanding of the issues under debate or whether they instead fueled the rancor, leaving both sides impossibly divided over the role of shareholders and directors in corporate governance.

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