Many believe that the business press ‘missed’ the story of the twenty-first century – the 2008 economic crisis. Condemned for being too close to the firms they were supposed to be holding to account, journalists are thought to have failed in their duties to the public. The handful of historical studies of business journalism present a similarly pessimistic picture. By contrast, this article stresses the importance of the press as a key reputation intermediary in the nineteenth-century marketplace. In Britain, reporters played an instrumental role in opening up companies’ general meetings to the public gaze, and in warning investors of fraudulent businesses. This regulation by reputation was at least as important as company law in making the City of London a relatively safe place to do business by the start of the twentieth century.