Monday, 19 February 2018

The poor state of business journalism

If you clicked on Business News from the US on Google, here's a sample of the news items that are featured


Business news has become a reality show. Where are the many important economic issues facing the world ? Where is the reasoned debate ? I had hoped that the dry area of economics and business would be the last to succumb to trivialisation and  sensationalisation. Alas, it has already fallen.

Take the case of the Nirav Modi - Punjab National Bank fraud that has hit the headlines in India. It is a massive fraud and yet try as I might,  and despite the millions of words written and aired on this (the favourite word is scam - in India everything is a scam), I am not able to make out what exactly happened. There isn't one journalistic piece on what exactly happened in detail, why it happened and how can it be prevented. Instead the predominant coverage is that because of the same surname as the Indian Prime Minister, the opposition Congress Party has been going around calling Nirav Modi as "Chhota Modi" (Smaller Modi) although there is absolutely no evidence of any relationship.  Both the parties are blaming each other loudly (from what news has come out, this appears to be a plain banking fraud with no link to politics).

The two finest business newspapers in the world - Financial Times of the UK and the Wall Street Journal have become obsessed with Trump. No, I don't want to read anything about him, thank you.

The Economist remains the only "good" read. Alas, this blogger's subscription is having some niggles and there has been no issue to read for a month.

Can we examine America pumping itself with steroids? They are reducing taxes, increasing military spending, increasing social spending and presuming to invest in infrastructure at the same time, and that too when the country is near full employment. This is deficit financing on a staggering scale , being done by the party that ostensibly hates deficits. 

Can we examine the Brexit issue in terms of what exactly the trade deal issues are ? Can we examine China's pile of debt ? Can we marvel at Europe overtaking the US in economic growth - yes that happened last quarter. Can we think about the boom in India's indirect tax revenues ?

Instead I am being told that a Transavia flight made an emergency landing because a passenger refused to stop farting.

7 comments:

gils said...

From sting operations to Stink!!! ooops. Hope no newspaper guy reads this blog for it might appear as the next editorial headline!!!

Sriram Khé said...

You have labeled this post as "Light Reading" ... so, I don't know how seriously I need to consider what you have written.
But, I lack a funny bone, and am always way intense ... so ... ;)

The news feed has always been that way. I have forever complained that the science news, in Google and before that, were mostly about trivial crap and not substantive or meaningful. I get even more pissed off when news about science gets reduced to some trivial aspect of health--like, "now scientists say that coffee is a cure for constipation."
It reflects what we consumers prefer. We prefer all the fluffy, entertaining, aspects of news--whether it is about science or business or whatever. It is also ad-driven: How many eyeballs will a news item get!

Ramesh said...

@Gils - Ha Ha. Delighted to have you back as a regular commenter.

@Sriram - Economic news was more nuanced than that. Since I got most of my economic news from FT, WSJ and The Economist, I never faced triviliasation as a major problem. But now, the difference is your dear leader. The FT and WSJ have fallen for the same affliction that has captivated all news media - obsession with him. And then when I look elsewhere, I see the full force of trivialisation.

Anne in Salem said...

My three usual sources of news, whether economic, political or athletic, are NPR on the way to and from work; MSN's homepage, which has links to a wide variety of articles and sources; and my local paper, which has financial, national and international news taken from USA Today. I usually find more than enough economic news that I can understand in those three sources - and their sources. Of course, I don't know what I am missing. Sometimes NPR will feature a report that I wish to read about more, and I can't find more information anywhere, but that doesn't happen too often.

I suppose it is easier for me to get my fill because I don't understand much economic talk, especially when the reporters start using jargon. Perhaps my "enough" is your "trivialization" (with a z). If my level of understanding is average, I'm not surprised by a dearth of in-depth reporting. Media outlets aren't going to spend money on a thorough examination of a topic if most readers response is TL,DR.

Sounds like it's time to harass The Economist. It costs too much to have delivery issues.

Anonymous said...

America is a nation full of idiots being ruled by one! Ofcourse any news that comes out of that country is garbage because it is being written for idiots. Whoever said "Chota Modi" sounds like another Trump. All your questions in the last 2 paragraphs make really good news headlines which I would love to read. You should consider journalism and write your own newspaper.

Ramesh said...

@Anon - Oh - you are way too generous in that I should consider journalism. I'll content myself by prattling on this blog !!

Ramesh said...

@Anne - You are dead right, as always. There are enough sources to get economic information to the level each person is comfortable with. I would only recommend the addition of The Economist to your list - it is truly the best magazine (quaintly it calls itself a newspaper) in the world. Period !

Interesting you listen to the NPR. I listen too and find it very good, but I thought it was not liked by non leftists !

Touche on "trivialisation" :)

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