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Increasingly, We Can’t Trust Journalists To Decipher Finance

Increasingly, We Can't Trust Journalists To Decipher Finance by The Conversation

In the fallout of the 2008 global financial crisis, the financial media were criticized for failing to fulfill a watchdog role, for boosting the global asset boom that contributed to the crisis, and for exacerbating the crisis when it happened.

Among the strongest accusations was that financial journalists had been captured by the small coterie of elite sources they used for information, and by a newsroom culture that favoured free markets and encouraged a pro-business attitude.

The corollary of this was that perceived doomsayers and others providing alternative viewpoints and warnings were left out of the debate. While people have called out these trends, there has been little hard evidence measuring the extent of the problem.

A captured sector

As economic policies have favored deregulation and minimal regulation of financial markets, they have encouraged a process known as financialization, which prioritizes the finance industry and related interests at the expense of all others. The general public has been actively encouraged to become players in the finance marketplace, either directly or indirectly through loans, credit cards and savings.

Yet, while this has been happening, the public’s financial knowledge has not kept pace. Nor has the mainstream financial press concerned itself with the task of increasing general financial literacy. In fact studies suggest the trend is in the opposite direction, catering even more exclusively for finance insiders.

In the US, for instance, Columbia Journalism Review blogger Dean Starkman notes the...