My post earlier today caused a bit of stir on Twitter! Most of the comments I received were supportive, although I got a bit of bollocking too (never mind, you can’t please everyone!)
The debate was fun and in fairness to Paul, he responded to the comments pretty well. So kudos to him! I thought that was the end of it, everybody should move on! Until I saw this comment on LinkedIn from Janet Walford OBE, former editor of Money Management and someone who is highly respected as a financial journalist.
I tweeted the link to Paul and he responded by saying he couldn’t read the comments as he’s not on LinkedIn. Out of respect for Paul and for Janet, I decided to post the comment here.
There is a great truism in journalism that the headline “Plane lands safely at Heathrow” does NOT sell newspapers. You can probably guess why. When I started in financial journalism, in 1978, there were very few financial journals and broadcast media, and very few personal finance journalists.
Nowadays, however, there is a great proliferation of all kinds of media and many, many, many people calling themselves financial journalists. The one skill demanded of all journalists (although sadly not always delivered) is the ability to write. Specialist knowledge of a subject is somewhat secondary – although when you are writing for a specialist journal it is usually vital, otherwise your readers will have no confidence in you or your publication. That is why it is good for personal finance journalists to be as qualified as their readers, at least at the basic level, so that they have an understanding of their market, as all journalists at Money Management are required to do as part of their job.
The need to attract readers/watchers/listeners to any programme is therefore a very cutthroat business these days, and that is why you will see headlines that do not always stick to the truth, or only tell part of it –- they want to be so sensational that prospective readers/watchers/listeners feel obliged to read/watch/listen just to find out how true it really is.
I have tremendous respect for Paul Lewis as a professional journalist, and I was surprised that he would take a tack like this, but then looking at paying for financial advice is just one of the very many financial matters he investigates, whereas it is your whole life, (rightly so).
Perhaps you should ask Paul if you can be interviewed on his show to put your side of the argument. He may not necessarily agree, but he might be persuaded to run an item along the lines of “following my report on paying for financial advice last week, I have received several calls from advisers …. ” etc
Thanks Jane! It means a lot coming from you! Over to you Paul!