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News networks can move markets, that’s for sure, and rarely has their compulsion to report responsibly been more critical. But what truth is there to concern from some quarters that they’ve talked the economy in to a recession? Absolutely none, a trio of them emphatically told our Future Of Business Media conference.
“This is not a press-driven event. These guys are doing a pretty responsible job, all things considered,” said New York Times (NYSE: NYT) Talking Business columnist Joe Nocera. “Things have improved considerably since the days of the internet bubble, when everyone was saying ‘rah-rah-rah’ – there’s a lot less ‘rah-rah-rah’ now.
Fox Business Network anchor Liz Claman said the blame lays with bank chiefs rather than media: “Those guys knew there was a problem, there were absolutely people who were voicing these concerns, (but) everybody loves a bubble until it bursts and it spews toxic waste all over the place. I said ‘it looks a lot like a bubble’, I got hate-mail, email all day and night: ‘You’re un-American, you’re crazy’.”
The up-side of the downturn, however, has been the emergence in to the mainstream of the financial news outlets that are usually specialist players. As Financial Times US managing editor Chrystia Freeland put it: “It’s becoming ordinary dinner party conversation.” But the greater attention for – and the critical importance of – of the stories they report puts more emphasis than ever on trustworthiness. Freeland: “We’re at a time when everything depends on our reputation – for an organization like the FT, reputation is the main thing we are selling.”
That holds true both online and off, and the trio on our stage were far from convinced by the rise of upstart financial blogs and online rumor mills. Claman: “I look at a lot of the blogs out there that are maybe right 70 to 80 percent of the time – what about the rest of the time?“