Do Keep Up

Posted on 2 CommentsPosted in Editorial Judgement, Financial News, Political News, Public Interest

For millions of Australians forced to save for their own retirement, ‘finance’ is Alan Kohler on the news every night telling them what happened to the Baltic Dry index that day or explaining why Stock A’s share price went up when their earnings went down. The truth is that what happened in the global and domestic financial markets on any one day is hardly relevant to the vast majority […]

Doing a Number

Posted on 22 CommentsPosted in Craft Standards, Editorial Judgement, Financial journalism, Financial News, Political News

Journalists, as a rule, don’t do numbers. They’re words people – topped the class in creative writing; struggled in maths. And in most areas of reporting, that’s not a huge disadvantage. But when it comes to economics, it can leave them open to being conned. Take the Mid-Year Economic and Fiscal Outlook. That News Corp would run this set-piece through its lazy and deliberately misleading partisan filter (‘Labor’s Debt […]

Media Stockholm Syndrome

Posted on 9 CommentsPosted in Craft Standards, Financial journalism, Public Interest, Staffing and Resources

‘Twenty Ways to Bulk Up Your Cash’. That was the breathless headline in The Australian Financial Review on September, 27, 2005 “It’s shop till you drop for ordinary people with money to park,” the article gushed. “And the range of investment options is so vast, it’s very nearly an embarrassment of riches.”

Typecast

Posted on 17 CommentsPosted in Digital Media, Education, Experimental Formats, Media Business, Staffing and Resources, Technology, Television, Wires

Cast your mind back 17 years. A Reuters journalist prepared a report on the jobs data. loaded his script on the autocue, turned on his TV lights, positioned the ISDN camera, loaded his DIY graphics and went live to air on a digital feed to Tokyo. Afterwards, he wrote 800 words for the wire, recorded and cut a radio interview and turned around a 2-minute package for conventional TV. […]

Future Shockers

Posted on 35 CommentsPosted in Craft Standards, Digital Media, Financial News, Media Business, Staffing and Resources

“Prediction is very difficult, particularly about the future.” Journalists would do well to keep in mind that aphorism from influential Danish physicist Nils Bohr when quoting “experts” about the outlook for financial markets, the economy and politics.

The Forecast Deficit

Posted on 9 CommentsPosted in Financial journalism, Financial News

A few years back an economic forecaster was asked to explain why his predictions of a 10 per cent return on the Australian equity market that year hadn’t come to pass. (The market ended down nearly 40 per cent in 2008). “It’s not my fault,” he complained. “No-one predicted Lehman.” To which the response is well, isn’t that the point? Forecasts are subject to considerable error, due to the […]

The Secret Sauce

Posted on 9 CommentsPosted in Editorial Judgement, Newspapers, Political News, Sales and Circulation

What did the International Monetary Fund say about the Australian economy? We’re heading for a severe slowdown. No, wait! We’re better placed than anyone. Hold on, that’s not right! Julia Gillard is putting a brave face on a grim outlook. In an age when the source material for most news events is freely available on the web, it is surprising that media organisations continue to spin multiple versions of […]

Locked Up

Posted on 9 CommentsPosted in Editorial Judgement, Financial News, Political News

The Federal Budget is ‘The Big Day Out’ for the political and financial media in Australia. Busloads of hacks (only the lucky ones go by plane these days) make the long journey to late autumn Canberra to join their full-time press gallery brethren in what is a media and political ritual – a six-hour lock-up, a frenzy of writing and then off to The Holy Grail (these days the […]

Here’s that Rainy Day

Posted on 4 CommentsPosted in Craft Standards, Financial journalism, Financial News, Government Policy and Regulation, Political News, Uncategorized

What is it with the Australian parliamentary press gallery and its obsession with budget deficits? It seems every government initiative is met with questions about what it means for the Labor government’s election campaign pledge (extracted under pressure) to restore the budget to surplus within three years – as if this means anything. To be fair, successive governments have brought this on themselves by making a fetish of having […]