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March 01, 2009


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I love the idea, but one other thing to consider is the length of the content written/spoken by journalists. Sometimes I feel that they might have the capacity to grasp the whole issue, but don't because they are limited to 20 seconds or 250 words. They are (frequently) catering to short attention spans, so nuance and depth don't make it into the product. It's funny that you quote a journo from Twitter, because isn't that limited to 200 or 300 characters? Maybe your network could also help support longer articles that actually cover the entire issue?

TV in particular should also stop using its so-called "experts" - Susie Orman might work for talking about personal finance (or not), but in no way is she qualified to discuss CDO's of ABS. So let's set up a fund/pool of actual experts who the major networks can call upon.

I do like your thought about a website for corrections/comments, I just wonder a) how you get your typical reader/viewer to go to it (maybe Twitter helps there) and b) how you keep it from being like the comments section of NYT or WSJ or Yahoo.

Kid Dynamite

everyone just talks their book - and if they don't have a book, they talk anyway, because it's a freeroll - if they're right, maybe they can gain some fame.

for months after Art Hogan RIDICULOUSLY called the "bottom" in November, CNBC referred to "The Art Hogan Bottom." oh really? hey Art - how's your bottom?

if you're really lucky, you can become a self fulfilling prophecy, and make money selling your opinions (see: recent fame of Roubini and Meredith Whitney - both of whom APPEAR to know exactly what they're talking about)

now, i happen to like Roubini and Whitney, but I've also read "Fooled By Randomness".... take 1000 or 10,000 commentators, and you'll always get a couple who get it exactly right just out of dumb luck. unless you're looking at economists. then they're always wrong.

there is a segue here into something related to StockTwits (or whatever it's called) - twitter's stock touting service... i cannot in a million years see how a service like this could ever be monetize. You've heard the one about the sportspick service that starts with 10,000 clients, and each week, they give 1/2 their clients each side of a game, so that by week 7 they have a handful of clients left who've had SIX STRAIGHT WINNING WEEKS! guaranteed! then they charge them for the next pick.


@ Thoth

The goal is to get not only the mostly well-intentioned reporters themselves on-board, but their editors and publishers (i.e. "the powers that be."). Again, easier said than done, but baby steps and all, baby steps.

Another part of that same twitter back/forth was the obvious revelation that all news is over-simplified in 95% of media outlets, but tackling the macro issue just isn't pragmatic; we can, I believe, focus on one small microcosm - business/finance/econ/etc - and make a difference.

If you've ever seen FT Alphaville's "Long Room," that's something what I envision. Only volunteer ("expert") members would have authorization to post on the blog, which itself would be moderated to some extent. "Yahoo's" would have the ability to view, just likely not to comment or post, while the media-members would likely have some ability to comment and/or respond.

Also, to clarify, the purpose is not to replace reporter/journalist's "sources"; if an individual volunteer/expert-member feels comfortable carrying on a personal relationship with a particular reporter that is his/her business and beyond the scope of this mission.

As I see it, the goal is to provide a service to match those who want/need to know (reporters, etc) with those who do (business professionals, academics, etc).

The other services I mentioned like keeping profiles/"ratings" of various media outlets I think would help boost the publicity of the effort. No one wants to be called out, especially by the industry they claim to cover, for being worse than their peers.


@ Kid Dynamite

Obviously agree with all your points, and its been a goal of mine since University to expose all the various "money making" services as shams, but whatever, a fool and his money or something, right?

I do think though that business professionals have a vested interest in helping business reporters do much better than most do today. While it'll probably be a steep uphill battle to convince them, I think its a win-win situation, no?

The Reformed Broker

fantastic post

that said, are talking about correcting facts that people get wrong, or calling BS when someone has real facts but twisted them for their own purposes? It would be very refreshing to have a forum where one could call someone out for being disingenuous with actual facts

then, are we talking about policing people's opinions? thats much trickier...

The Reformed Broker


@ Anal_yst - your points make lots of sense. Ironically, when I got home last night my wife was watching CNN and they were running a special about the economy on Larry King Live (no idea why she was watching it). The guest experts were Ben Stein, Ali V (a CNN talking head on business I guess) and a radio talk show host named Ed Shultz. Incredible, no? I am sure millions of people are watching a talk show guy who has no background in the subject and thinking that he must be right if he's on CNN. Who cares what Shultz thinks about CDS (does he even know how they work)?

@ Reformed Banker - I agree that it could be considered policing opinions, but I consider it more putting a quality filter on the news. When Ed Shultz or Susie Orman become "experts", there is clearly a need for filtering. By the same token, I think a real debate between experts a la Anal_yst's website would be highly educational for the average person, because they might then get a better sense for how complicated the situation really is.


I like your proposals a lot and would be very happy to see some version of them implemented.

Allow me, however, to play devil's advocate: many of the media sources you cite are reeling from declining subscriptions/viewership, etc. They are instructed by their management to increase these numbers or at least keep them flat year over year.

Sensationalism sells. If it bleeds, it leads.

The irritating fact about people is that, on average, they do not want to think. They don't want to be presented with truly "fair and balanced" reporting because, as you suggest, the issues involved are extremely complex and hard to think about--even for those of us trained in finance or economics.

The Reformed Broker

dave and thoth, let's also keep in mind that most people dont watch programs like larry king or fox news to learn anything, the watch to have their preconceived notions and opinions CONFIRMED.

then when a pundit makes a more vivid or erudite argument for what they already believe, they can say to themselves, "you see! i knew it!"

so taking these people to task for propaganda and spin may not be as well received as it should be


@ TRB, Dave, Thoth

All very good comments, unsurprisingly.

While I desperately hate, HATE the finger-pointing shame game, it seems to me one of the only ways to get these media outlets on-board. That is, we'd need to find/develop some sort of mechanism to get our message heard by many ears (eyes), such to the point where publishers/editors are actually afraid of being on our shit list.

I had a very educational and informative back-and-forth today with a well-known Financial journalist, who brought several items to my attention I hadn't spent much (if any) time/thought on when I wrote this post.

I'll get into the details at another time, but the million-dollar question, so-to-speak, is how the hell do we get anyone to give a crap what we say, especially when those with the greatest reach are more often than not the worst offenders (non-financial MSM, for example)?

This is still in the brainstorming stage, but frankly, I'd like to find a way to make this work, one way or another. I think there is no better time than the present to start, but quite clearly, there is much to be ironed out before then.

While I'd like to keep this discussion in the comments section here, I'm open to email, or potentially even in-person if there is enough interest.

We Are Beyond Fucked

Totally agree with Dave re: media. Let us remember why no average jo-schmo consumer pays for AP/Reuters related-news, but picks up the post/daily for the sensationalized details *with pictures!*. You'll never get "fair and balanced," just as you'll never enjoy plain yogurt.

Regarding a solution...I'm sorry, there is none. Our biggest problem right now is time. It takes time to wind down these assets, while not letting the banks crumble to the ground. It takes time to re-adjust real estate pricing without dropping it to it's actual level (causing absolute panic). It takes time to price most securities that have been floating through the system (in heavy rotation) for the last 12 years. We can let everything price at what it's worth (i.e., letting everything crumble), or we can *buy* time and let it occur gradually (hoping some new solution occurs).

*Please note I in no way, shape, or form support what our government has done thus far*

When we all realize most of everything was priced over 70% its actual value in the last decade, then we'll reach a bottom. Welcome to the new world where people like their reality spoon-fed to them via television sets with dance routines, singing auditions, and dating clusterfucks. You try telling the mortgage broker/RE IB/construction worker his/her job was a farce for the last 10 years. Try that.


I think something like the non-profit LinkedIn-type database is in development over at Minyanville. The Minyanville Underground Railroad. It's in its early stages, and doesn't seem to be press-oriented, but if it takes off it could potentially be a platform for your vision.

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nice coments

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