Robert is a final year Creative Writing and English Literature student at Kingston University and plans to do an MA in Journalism. Robert has written for various university publications on pressing issues such as parking. He enjoys lifestyle writing. With other writers, Rob is currently in the process of interviewing several well known sports journalists on their journalistic style for a series on an expanding football blog. Rob also blogs here from time to time.
Recently I attended a conference at City University which considered how the media has coped so far in reporting our current financial crisis. At this conference it became apparent to me that the role of the financial journalist is a little hazy within the profession. The keynote speaker was Lionel Barber, Editor of the Financial Times. Also in attendance were several other renowned journalists, economists and lecturers from all over the world.
It was widely received by speakers of The Soothsayers of Doom conference (#citydoom) that the media has so far coped well in the financial crisis. That is, albeit with a few slip ups where reporters might not have attained both sides of a certain story or exaggerated coverage of the Northern Rock bank closure in 2007, for example.
The media was therefore not blamed at this conference, as it has been before by some, of being disingenuous or misinforming the public and having some responsibility for effects of the financial crisis. But, it did raise a few questions on what financial journalism is and what role it has to play within our society.
Some suggest that the role of financial journalist should be to show a constant awareness of what’s on the financial horizon, rather than just what’s happening in the present. That means being able to read balance sheets and make forecasts according to economic indicators, skills that some claim many journalists lacked as they were thrown head first into an ongoing topic of such magnitude.
On the contrary, others propose that the role of a financial journalist is simply to translate financial jargon and balance sheets thus making the findings readable for the public. In a recent survey, figures make it clear that the public don’t understand the financial crisis and what caused it. And more worryingly, who and what is going to be key in resolving it.
Also, making financial extrapolations in the news is viewed by some as dubious. With the turbulent seas of the financial market being unpredictable at best, it seems unjust for newspapers to be publishing tips on what shares to buy in their ‘100 ways to make money in 2012’ lists. Perhaps it would be more socially responsible to simply report rather than predict on such a scale.
Despite the contrasting opinions on what financial journalism should entail, people must also remember that the news is daily. Some economists may want a journalist to delve into a wad of data to analyse what’s trending and what’s not for every story they write. Yet, that journalist may not always have that luxury and may only have a matter of hours to write a story before a deadline. It’s not too romantic an ideal from the economists, but definitely a little amorous.
Financial journalism is a branch of journalism that’s in a good state. The media department of Bloomberg is expanding. The pink pages of the Financial Times are recognisable on a global scale. People will always want to read about money and good financial journalism will always be sought after. However, though it seems that the media is coping well in the current financial crisis, it appears people’s opinions differ on what it should entail.
Image courtesy of epSos .de
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After finishing my stint in student media, I couldn’t help but look