In a timely and lucid report, LSE’s Damian Tambini describes the role and responsibility of UK financial journalism (FiJo). Cast as a “a branch of the [journalistic] profession which faces unique ethical dilemmas” (p5), FiJo is seen as (p6):
based on a ‘social compact’ of rights and responsibilities. Rights and privileges have been afforded to journalists in return for commitments to responsible journalism.
Through interviews with journalists, financiers and regulators, the report provides empirical evidence for professional, technological and editorial challenges facing FiJo, including the critique that FiJo exacerbates “capital markets dysfunctionality” (p9), that it spreads market “doom and gloom” (p12), that it reports on an increasingly more complex domain (p19) and that it is being colonized by “sanitized” financial PR (p22). These observations lead the author to conclude that (p29):
UK Financial Journalism is at a crossroads. Over the years, it has established a range of professional practices, rules and codes that together amount to a public compact of privileges (rights of access and a range of other freedoms) which have been granted in the light of the particular function that financial journalism plays. But due to change in the practices of journalism, and challenges to the accepted notion of who is a member of the profession, this established compact is likely to be increasingly challenged. There is a choice: either the informal institutions that police and guarantee ethical behaviour (such as the PCC and the codes enforced by individual outlets) will be shored up and law and policy will clarify to whom privileges such as source protection should be granted; or those privileges will be watered down. Standards will be compared and compete with standards of other countries and other media, and the extent to which the ethics of professional financial journalism remain the most appropriate will continue to be debated.
The 38-page report is accessible as a pdf document.