OLD Media Moves

Financial journalism needs to reassess its role

November 19, 2008

Financial journalists and others involved in the process or reporting business and economics news need to reassess the roles and responsibilities of business journalism, according to a study released this week from the London School of Economics.

The study, done by Damian Tambini, concludes “Those that seek a more responsible financial journalism should open a dialogue about how to best support that, through promoting access to key financial information for journalists, clarifying source protection standards and defamation risk.

“Given the business constraints financial journalists face, they will not be able to develop a new role in the global corporate governance structure without a re-assessment of the privileges society affords them.”

Tambini writes in the study that it was done to promote debate and discussion about the future of business journalism. The paper primarily focuses on British financial journalists, but it also mentions a number of U.S. issues, such as the Securities and Exchange Commission subpoenas of business journalists in 2006.

Tambini noted that only a small minority of business journalists said they actively trade in the market.

His paper also examined the increasing challenges in business journalism, such as speed, complexity and the increasing use of PR people to spin what is written about companies.

“There is no evidence of a collapse of ethical standards or of serious levels of malpractice in financial journalism on the basis of the interviews conducted for this study,” wrote Tambini. “But there is a widespread sense that the traditional challenges of being a financial journalist, of not being used by your sources, of maintaining adequate scepticism, or being first without being wrong, are being redefined in the context of new technological, legal and commercial challenges.”

Talking Biz News has a copy of the study. E-mail if you’d like to see it.

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