City & Corporate: Business news not taken seriously

When a former editor of the Financial Times, Richard Lambert (in his current role as director general of the CBI), attacks the way the press have handled the credit crunch it is surely time to take notice.

There are structural reasons why treatment of business stories tends to be apocalyptic. The main one is that business news is widely seen to be boring and too many people in this country have a numbers phobia.

Although in the recent past some business news journalists have become editors of national newspapers, it is still almost unheard of for most of the senior executives to have a business background. This means that when a business journalist is bidding for front page space, he has more resistance to overcome than a home news reporter, a political specialist or even a sports reporter, with whose subject matter the executives are far more comfortable.

To get the executives' attention the business news reporter therefore oversells the story - painting a picture starkly in black and white when most business is in varying shades of grey - and playing up its seriousness. The more apocalyptic, the more likely it is it will overcome the executives' instinctive boredom and resistance to anything to do with the specialist, minority area of business.

A second reason concerns the nature of modern markets. A generation ago journalists would have several hours to consider economic statistics or company results before forming a judgement. They would read the release properly to form a view and different papers would come to different conclusions. Today everything is instant - figures are good or bad, a buy or a sell - and anyone trying to take the time to form a balanced view, or even read the second page of an announcement, is trampled in the rush.

Society in general is losing the ability to give serious thought to serious issues. Everything is geared to instant judgements with instant pundits. The press mostly get away with it but when something as complex as the credit crunch comes along it becomes evident to all.

Before commenting please read our rules for commenting on articles.

If you see a comment you find offensive, you can flag it as inappropriate. In the top right-hand corner of an individual comment, you will see 'flag as inappropriate'. Clicking this prompts us to review the comment. For further information see our rules for commenting on articles.

comments powered by Disqus

Latest Articles

John Lewis to tell brand story with "tasteful" 150th anniversary celebrations

John Lewis to tell brand story with "tasteful" 150th anniversary celebrations

Department store John Lewis is to use its 150th anniversary this year to talk about its history, which "not enough people know about", according to director of communications Peter Cross.

Labour hires Obama election strategist David Axelrod to fight General Election

Labour hires Obama election strategist David Axelrod to fight General Election

The man who helped Barack Obama win the 2008 and 2012 US presidential elections is to work for Labour along with members of his team.

Sky adds Fever PR to its roster after splitting with Cake

Sky adds Fever PR to its roster after splitting with Cake

Pay-TV giant Sky has added Fever PR to its agency line-up for a wide-ranging brief covering products and services.

Max Clifford trial jury to continue deliberations after Easter break

Max Clifford trial jury to continue deliberations after Easter break

The jury in the trial of celebrity publicist Max Clifford has been sent home for Easter and will reconvene on Tuesday for further deliberations about its verdicts on 11 charges of indecent assault.

Home Office brings in Munro & Forster to campaign against FGM

Home Office brings in Munro & Forster to campaign against FGM

The Home Office has tasked Munro & Forster (M&F) with supporting its campaign to eradicate female genital mutilation (FGM) as part of a wider retained brief.