Felix Salmon, Edmund Lee and Kevin Delaney on how your financial-news report is made

Tweet Share on Facebook Share on Tumblr Print

Why is some of the more ridiculous stuff coming out of Washington deliberations about the U.S. economy covered with such a straight face in our major newspapers and on TV?

"It's self-censorship," said Felix Salmon, the iconoclastic finance and media columnist who tends to take a more cynical point of view in his writings on such topics for the opinion vertical of Reuters.

"It's this long tradition of American journalists who all went to American journalism school and who believe that there's nothing worse than saying what you think in a news article," said Salmon, a U.K. native who has lived in the U.S. for 16 years.

"We have a bunch of reporters in Washington dutifully transcribing the crazy ravings of various Republicans," he continued, "and not coming out and saying these people are completely insane. And that is a problem, because if they did, maybe we could actually present the truth to the public."

MORE ON CAPITAL

ADVERTISEMENT

Salmon was speaking at New York Law School Tuesday morning during a panel about the global economy and the American financial press hosted by Capital and sponsored by the Association of Chartered Certified Accountants.

He was joined onstage by Bloomberg reporter Edmund Lee, Quartz editor-in-chief Kevin Delaney and Capital co-founder Tom McGeveran, who moderated the half-hour discussion.

Apart from the so-called "view from nowhere" (to borrow the favorite catchphrase of N.Y.U. journalism professor Jay Rosen), other topics included the balancing act of financial wires like Bloomberg and Reuters in serving their core professional audience while attempting to make their coverage interesting to a broader audience; the role of digital newcomers like Quartz in "providing analysis" around the reporting of traditional "data-gatherers," as Delaney put it; and the rise of the micro-scoop, which has financial reporters obsessed with chasing any and every morsel of news with the ostensible potential to "move the markets," as Lee put it.

On a more fanciful note, there was also the revelation of the increasingly mechanized process of financial news gathering and consumption: There are, after all, technologies that digest financial news headlines and make automated trades based on the results. And now there are technologies that generate news stories from data collected out of the stock market. Coming soon: A completely robotic loop that both generates, consumes, acts on and generates more of the news and newsworthy events in the markets!

New York Law School is streaming the entire video here, and we've compiled some highlights below.

On the present state of the conversation about the U.S. economy:

On 'boring' news, and journalistic responsibility:

On the structure of old media organizations, and what it means for coverage:

On 'micro-scoops' and what drives finanical reporters:

On 'data-gathering' and 'analysis':