Cash, Crises and Journalism was the title of a session at last week’s Journalism in Crisis conference at the University of Westminster. One of the participants was Matthew Fraser and he had this to say about financial journalism.
1 – Competitive pressures for scoops. In the modern media environment, journalists are just too busy to do off diary features like the potential state of the economy.
2 – Lack of professional training among business journalists, with most of them coming from Oxbridge but not having any financial experience.
3 – Business journalists simply have short memories, like everybody else, and failed to see the signs of the oncoming crisis.
4 – “Implicitly, everybody in the industry knows that business journalists don’t rock the boat of the audience with their careers”.
5 – Finally, many journalists were cheerleaders for the businesses, were having a great time in the club and simply had no interest in raising the alarm.
Financial journalism (FiJo) – coverage of financial markets and corporate finance – remains a largely unexamined field of professional journalism, despite its prestige (cf. the cricital acclaim of The Financial Times or The Wall Street Journal), widespread concerns about its role and responsibility and a weak investigative track record. For example, no reporter uncovered the Enron collapse a few years ago. And also, how did we miss the 2008 credit crisis?
This question will be addressed during a POLISmedia panel discussion on Feb. 23 at LSE, entitled: “Why did nobody tell us? Reporting the Global Crash of ‘08″.
Belgian multimedia company Corelio today announced that it will be laying off some 6 percent of its workforce. 60 full time employees, including 15 journalists, will lose their jobs. Corelio, Belgium’s largest newspaper publisher, boasts a diverse portfolio that includes such household names as De Standaard and Het Nieuwsblad.
The job cuts come as Corelio, like other media companies, adjusts to major shifts in media consumption, advertising spending and the current economic downturn. In short, audiences and employers are vanishing. Expect more (Belgian) media companies to follow suit.
Fortis also announced that it was planning to call a shareholder meeting in eight weeks. I would give good money to attend this meeting because investors are outraged over what they see as “mismanagement” and “misinformation”. Lobbygroup Fortisaction.com argues that shareholders are left with:
a marginalised company with a 66% stake in a structured products portfolio (worth 6,8 billion euro)
a small insurance business that could not be sold directly (Insurance International) worth between 1,5 and 2,0 billion euro.
The shit has hit the fan. The CBFA, Belgium’s Banking, Finance and Insurance Commission has reportedly suspended Euronext trading of Fortis shares until the market can adapt to the BNP Paribas takeover. No official press release confirming this news could be found on the CBFA website at this time. Lame.