Professor: British biz media more aggressive in crisis than American
TALKING BIZ NEWS EXCLUSIVE
The British business media took a more proactive approach in reporting on the economic crisis of the past two years than their American counterparts, said a London financial journalism professor and former BBC business journalist on Thursday.
“The British media, by talking a more slightly leading role, helped shape the response” of regulators, said Steve Schifferes, the Marjorie Deane professor of financial journalism at City University London. Schifferes was speaking Thursday afternoon at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, where he spoke with students interested in business journalism.
As a example, Schifferes pointed to the story that BBC broke that the Bank of England would have to rescue Northern Rock, a British bank in the mortgage business. In the past, the British government had concealed its involvement in bailing out banks. As a result of its story, investors and depositors lined up outside its branches to withdraw money, even though their money was safe with the government intervention.
In comparison, Schifferes said, the American business media didn’t hear about Lehman Brothers’ pending collapse until just before it happened, preventing its customers from acting.
As a result of the aggressive British coverage, the government in that country were forced to respond, putting the media in a position to shape regulatory policy, said Schifferes. In comparison, he argued, the American business media has not been able to perform a similar role.
Schifferes also noted that British business media contain more opinion and commentary than their American colleagues.
Before becoming a professor, Schifferes was a TV producer for the BBC’s Money Programme and most recently has been economics correspondent for BBC News online. At BBC News online he co-ordinated coverage of the credit crunch, the Asian financial crisis, the Enron scandal, and the launch of the euro and has led the online coverage of UK government budgets, the G20 summit in London, the G8 Gleneagles summit in Scotland, and the launch of the world trade talks in Doha.