OLD Media Moves

A PhD in financial journalism

December 24, 2009

Reuters blogger Felix Salmon writes about the potential for financial journalists to obtain a PhD, thus gaining more expertise in the field that they cover.

A former Lehman executive by the name of Lennie Fuller is exploring the possibility at the University of Stirling in Scotland.

Salmon writes, “Fuller also wonders whether financial journalism ‘should only be investigatory as all other information is freely available in the market’ — which seems to me to ignore the mechanism (journalism) by which an enormous amount of information enters the market. (There’s a reason why all those trading floors are surrounded by screens tuned to CNBC, while the trading screens themselves invariably have full feeds from Reuters and Bloomberg.) More generally, I think that people like Fuller, who are looking at financial journalism largely from the perspective of a financial-market professional, have to be careful to remember the crucial public role played by journalism. Just because information is ‘in the market’ doesn’t mean that it’s known by the general public. And it’s the job of journalists to intermediate between the two.

“More generally, it’s the job of journalists to interpret what financial-market professionals are doing and to explain it to a generalist audience. Yes, market activity can be complex, and as a result some of the subtleties will be missed. The professionals might not like that, but if they already know everything that the article is talking about, then it’s not aimed at them anyway. One of the biggest lessons that financial journalists have learned over this crisis is that we collectively spent much too much time writing about deals for bankers and lawyers, and much too little time writing big-picture articles for the general public which would require broad, rather than narrow, understanding of what was going on.

“Finally, Fuller asks when sources become insider trading: the simple answer is never, if you don’t trade, and there’s really no reason for journalists to engage in such activities. More generally, the only insider information that journalists ever really have is the inside information of what is going to appear in tomorrow’s paper. If you trade in advance of a market-moving story appearing, that’s very bad. In other cases, you’re not an insider, so you can’t be guilty of insider trading.”

Read more here.

Subscribe to TBN

Receive updates about new stories in the industry daily or weekly.

Subscribe to TBN

Receive updates about new stories in the industry.