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For your consideration — Covering the financial mess and journalism in general

Discussion in 'Journalism topics only' started by JayFarrar, Aug 11, 2011.

  1. JayFarrar

    JayFarrar Well-Known Member

    Just to start a conversation, I was thinking about the coverage of the financial crisis.

    Here's what I think. I figure only about a dozen journalists have the background and the chops to report smartly about the specifics of the financial mess. Those 12 or so work in various platforms — web, TV, newspaper, magazines — and that means the vast majority of the coverage was not good.

    It has occurred to me, that, and since I've done this myself, when I write about a topic I don't understand, I break the story done to as simple as possible. Frame a narrative where it is one side versus another side. Get quotes from both factions. Put it together and add in color to lengthen it out.

    My reasoning tends to be is if the topic is extremely complex the vast majority of the readers won't get it either and it follows the KISS, or Keep it Simple, Stupid, principle.

    It, in many cases, does a disservice to the readers who do understand or want to know more and I'm not providing what they need.

    I know it is lazy. But at the same time, even when you work a beat you still stumble on stuff that gets you out of your depth.

    But, it has also seemed, that more and more stories are falling on that one side versus the other narrative and missing vast amounts of context.

    Just some thoughts.
     
  2. YankeeFan

    YankeeFan Well-Known Member

    A lot more journalists than you think have the proper credentials to cover this. Many worked in the markets.

    Now, some of them will have biases, but if you follow them, you'll know that going in.

    Does the average generalist, or blow dried anchor have the knowledge to cover it? No.

    Don't listen to them. Listen to experts.
     
  3. baddecision

    baddecision Member

    A good start. We'll learn that one of the biggest failings of the recent move to young/bloggy/fresh-voice journalism is a whole lot of people who are a) out of their depth and b) blissfully unaware of that or stubbornly unwilling to recognize that. Which leads to d) lots of mistakes and knee-jerk stuff and e) a media that can be easily manipulated. This was always the case to a degree -- which is why crusty old editors once were so valuable -- but what happens now is anyone's guess.
     
  4. YankeeFan

    YankeeFan Well-Known Member

    Too many people don't expect the markets to change.

    Housing prices will always go up. Stocks will always go up. They don't have the historical knowledge of the markets and think time started the day they started working in the markets or following/covering them.

    The whole internet bubble saw people trying to redefine how the world works.

    I don't get my baseball news from MankyJimy. Don't get your financial news from someone who looks at markets the same way.
     
  5. Turtle Wexler

    Turtle Wexler Member

    One of the issues I have with business journalism is that it's traditionally very pro-business.

    For example, every story about housing prices going down is done with a sad or negative tone. But it's not a bad thing for everyone, such as people who had previously been priced out of the market or people buying an investment property to increase their income. Yet articles never lead with those perspectives and are rarely written with those views as the focus.
     
  6. Ace

    Ace Well-Known Member

    Clearly, many bankers, brokers, government officials and fed execs don't have a grasp of the financial crisis, either.
     
  7. dixiehack

    dixiehack Well-Known Member

    One thing that used to drive me batty was the AP's daily stock market story. Every day they had to have an explanation of why the Dow was up or down, as though they spent all day surveying folks logging into to their brokerage accounts.
     
  8. Ace

    Ace Well-Known Member

    Me too.

    "A lower-than-forecast $10 billion quarterly profit for GE drove the Dow Jones Industrial average down 1,200 points today. The company had expected to make $10.1 billion for the first quarter."
     
  9. YankeeFan

    YankeeFan Well-Known Member

    Speaking of financial reporters, if you're not reading James B. Stewart in the Times, you should be:

    http://www.nytimes.com/2011/08/13/business/financial-aftershocks-with-precedent-in-history.html?_r=1&hp=&pagewanted=all
     
  10. poindexter

    poindexter Well-Known Member

    I completely disagree. Go back and read the the overwhelming majority of business articles in 2006, 2007 and up to October 2008. None of that stuff should have been a surprise.
     
  11. poindexter

    poindexter Well-Known Member

    Great point. Housing articles almost seem to be ghost written by the National Association of Realtors.
     
  12. poindexter

    poindexter Well-Known Member

    Bingo.
     
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