Velshi: The louder the crisis, the quieter your coverage
Pranav Bhandarkar of The Politic spoke with business journalist Ali Velshi, most recently with Al Jazeera America, about his career.
Here is an excerpt:
In your process of covering the financial crisis, was there a most profound or formative experience from that coverage?
It was really at the height of it, and when I say the height of it, probably the second half of 2008 and the first quarter of 2009. At the beginning of that, there was a tempo and a tenor to the news coverage of this that was very panicky. I remember the banner…on the bottom of the screen on the TV on CNN one day saying “Bloodbath on Wall Street.” I remember having a conversation, that day, with a senior executive at CNN and we had a discussion in which we agreed that the louder it gets “out there,” the quieter I have to get, because people look to me as a financial expert to make decisions. Those decisions could be very impactful; cleaning out their 401k accounts, selling all of their stocks, whatever they were going to do, and I needed to have them listen quietly and I needed to speak quietly. So I actually changed my tone of voice, I ensured that on my show, nothing went out that said “Bloodbath on Wall Street.” Things were quieter, we were going to have quiet discussions about what happened. Because what happened happened. You don’t have to jump off a bridge because of it. And I discovered that a quieter, less emphatic but more intellectual approach to dealing with these things was better than an emotional response, which is what I was seeing largely on TV. That was the lesson I learned.
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