OLD Media Moves

Financial journalism should be interesting, but not always actionable

September 22, 2014

Posted by Chris Roush

The best financial reporting is interesting, but too many in the financial media try to make all news “actionable,” said a well-known financial blogger and money manager on Monday.

“What the media wants is to have every piece of news ‘actionable,” said Joshua Brown, who writes The Reformed Broker blog and is CEO of Ritholtz Capital Management. However, he added, “It’s getting better. [The media are] getting smarter about presenting information.”

Brown spoke Monday at the UNC-Chapel Hill School of Journalism and Mass Communication to students interested in business and economics reporting.

Brown started his Reformed Broker blog in 2008 and also appears on CNBC four days a week. He is the co-author of “Clash of the Financial Pundits: How the Media Influences Your Investment Decisions For Better or Worse.”

The best financial writing, Brown argued Monday, is content that answers the question, Why is this interesting to a non-finance audience? “The people that are able to do that are able to find an audience and are successful,” said Brown.

More financial journalists are using Twitter to find stories and sources, Brown noted. While that can lead to lazy journalism, he said he sees the social media platform improving the quality of financial news.

Business Insider writers Joe Weisenthal and Linette Lopez as well as Abnormal Returns blogger Tadas Viskanta were named by Brown as writers who do an excellent job of explaining complex business and financial topics to readers.

Lopez “has a command of all of the players in the industry,” said Brown, while he said that “everyone on Wall Street reads [Abnormal Returns], and every serious Wall Street reporter.”

The initial public offering last week of Alibaba is an example of a financial news story that some financial media covered as an “actionable” story but which many covered as more informational.

“I think the media did a good job of covering this,” said Brown. “There was a healthy dose of skepticism.”

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