ONE OF the UK’s leading independent online publishers strongly believes financial journalism will continue to play an important role beyond the current economic recession, but said a greater level of judgement was needed as current trends were creating an “ethical dilemma”.
Martin ‘money saving expert’ Lewis made the comments via video link from the BBC’s television centre in London earlier today during a question and answer session organised as part of the media lecture series, Coventry Conversations.
In light of Robert Peston’s scoop on Northern Rock in 2007 that resulted in it going into administration with the loss of thousands of jobs, Lewis admitted that if he reported a story with a similar outcome, he “would find it very difficult to live with”.
Journalists need to be respectful of the wider picture and the impact their journalism has on people
He said: “My general standpoint is that I will talk about how to protect yourself and not the solvency of any bank. One of the problems I find with journalism is that it is very focused and agenda lead without declaring it.
“My worry is that a lot of journalists mix their bias without declaring it. Bias isn’t a problem as there are a lot of campaigning journalists, but otherwise you need to get both sides of the story.”
Lewis rubbished suggestions that financial journalists such as Peston of BBC News could even be considered as being more powerful than the bankers themselves, but accepted that they do possess “lots of influence”.
He said that with influence came a responsibility, and that journalists needed to be more aware of their actions, how it will impact on the story, and if it will be “negative on consumers” when published in the public domain.
“There are certainly some questions about how the journalism works,” Lewis told his audience. “Although journalism provides stories and gets the information out there, we not only want journalists who are asking questions, but also respectful of the wider picture and the impact their journalism has on people.”