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Follow the Journalists Who Helped Bring Down Enron as They Crack the Story of a Lifetime - Special CSRwire Preview

Submitted by: HarperBusiness

Categories: Business Ethics

Posted: Sep 05, 2003 – 12:00 AM EST

 

CSRwire note: Chapter One of 24 Days is available for preview by CSRwire readers at Book Preview compliments of HarperBusiness.

"Wall Street Journal reporters John Emshwiller and Rebecca Smith led the national media in reporting Enron Corp.'s financial problems." – Los Angeles Times

"In a devastating fusillade of articles, [Smith and Emshwiller] forced Enron's clandestine partnerships out into the open, as Enron's stock price tumbled. The Wall Street Journal followed up with a massive barrage of detailed, critical reporting, some of which contained bold assertions about energy policy and deregulation." – Columbia Journalism Review

NEW YORK, NY - When Enron released its disastrous quarterly earnings results on October 16th, 2001, including an unexpected write-off, a pair of journalists were already hard at work writing a story that linked those results with two shadowy partnerships partly owned and run by its CFO, Andrew Fastow. Indeed, they had been trying to unravel the mysteries of Enron since the abrupt resignation of CEO Jeff Skilling in August, and by November 8th a mere 24 Days after the revelations of October 16th their groundbreaking coverage had contributed to Enron's rapid implosion. 24 DAYS: How Two Wall Street Journal Reporters Uncovered the Lies That Destroyed Faith in Corporate America (HarperBusiness; August 5, 2003; $25.95) details the investigation that forced Enron to answer the questions about matters that it had kept buried for years.

"That Nov. 8 document provided the final spark and kindling for Enron's own immolation," Emshwiller and Smith remarked making reference to the SEC filing that acknowledged the central role of Fastow's partnerships, "and a blaze that quickly spread through the halls of government and business. The conflagration cost investors tens of billions of dollars, put once-lionized corporate chieftains into the criminal docket and demolished many people's faith in Corporate America."

The pair, who shared a 2002 Gerald Loeb Award for their coverage of Enron, found themselves in the role of watchdogs when the SEC's investigation was spurred on by their articles; the accounting firm of Arthur Andersen was found guilty of obstructing justice; and stock analysts continued to issue "buy"recommendations for Enron, even as it fell apart.

Fast-paced and absorbing, 24 DAYS lets readers follow every twist and turn as Smith and Emshwiller expose an audacious scheme to hide Enron's failings, inflating its value by billions of dollars through Fastow's off-balance sheet financing, the fruits of a corporate culture of arrogance. It tells how each new round of questions was met with silence, stonewalling, or exquisitely parsed obfuscation as the $60 billion trading colossus stubbornly denied the existence of a problem, and in return the reporters received sarcasm (longtime Enron chairman and CEO Kenneth Lay referred to Smith as "sneaky" for her persistent questioning), accusations of personal bias, or outright lies. And it describes the dogged day-to-day efforts of two tireless journalists as they revealed one of the great cons of the century, patiently following the labyrinth of "special-purpose entities" and relying on their instincts and common sense to shed light into Enron's "black box" finances, with the help of confidential sources who understood their inner workings.

A modern-day David and Goliath story that changed American business forever, 24 DAYS brings the importance of great investigative journalism to life, showing how a pair of persistent newspaper writers can not only reveal but also affect current events, and offers an absorbing and relentlessly readable reporter's-eye view of history in the making. "Wall Street Journal reporters John Emshwiller and Rebecca Smith led the national media in reporting Enron Corp.'s financial problems," acknowledged The Los Angeles Times, while according to New York magazine, "their articles are widely seen by many on Wall Street as ultimately sinking the company." 24 DAYS is their utterly unforgettable story.

MORE PRAISE FOR REBECCA SMITH AND JOHN EMSHWILLER:

"These stories started a firestorm that permanently changed how corporations and their auditors disclose financial information."
- Excerpt from the Loeb Award for Journalism

"These two reporters were able to take complex financial information and
write stories that readers could understand."

- Excerpt from the Scripps-Howard National Journalism Award

ABOUT THE AUTHORS:
Rebecca Smith
is a national energy reporter in the Los Angeles bureau of The Wall Street Journal. She joined the paper in August 1999. Ms. Smith won the 2002 Gerald Loeb Award with John R. Emshwiller for their coverage of the Enron story, and the 2001 Loeb Award for beat reporting for her energy coverage in 2000. In 1996, she shared a Gerald Loeb Award for distinguished financial and economics reporting, and received a California Award for Excellence in economic writing. She won a John Hancock Award for distinguished financial writing in 1990. Born in Omaha, Neb., Ms. Smith earned a bachelor's degree, Phi Beta Kappa and magna cum laude, from the University of Washington in Seattle and a master's degree from Mills College in Oakland, Calif.

John R. Emshwiller is a senior national correspondent for The Wall Street Journal, who has focused for most of the past decade on covering white-collar crime and related issues. He is the author of Scam Dogs and Mo-Mo Mamas, a book published by HarperCollins chronicling the rise of the Internet stock-trading mania of the late 1990s. Since end of 2000, he has focused his work for the Journal on covering energy-related matters--initially the California electricity crisis and then the collapse of Enron. Emshwiller is a Los Angeles native and received his bachelor's degree from the University of California, Berkeley.

Our authors are the key investigative reporters in the Enron story. Their coverage has earned them numerous awards, including the Gerald Loeb award, the Scripps-Howard Foundation award, and awards from the Society of American Business Editors and Writers, and the New York chapter of the Society of Professional Journalists.

Both authors have appeared frequently on radio and television, including Nightline, CNBC, Frontline, and National Public Radio.

ABOUT THE BOOK:
TITLE: 24 DAYS
SUB TITLE: How Two Wall Street Journal Reporters Uncovered the Lies that Destroyed Faith in Corporate America
AUTHOR:
Rebecca Smith and John R. Emshwiller
ON SALE DATE: In Stores Now
ISBN: 0060520736
PRICE: $25.95

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