What are the most important factors in succeeding in financial journalism? –@dyer440
I can write a book on this one topic. So here’s my top 8 points on succeeding financial journalism:
Scoops are no longer important. It used to be if you had a scoop you had at least a 24 hour lead on all the other news sources so scoops actually meant your circulation went up and business improved. Now, because of the Internet, any scoop has a 1 second lead at most on its competitors. So chasing scoops is a waste of time.
Help people understand complex issues. Break it down in easy to understand language. Why did Italy cause such a panic three days ago and then manage to borrow $150 billion no problem the next day. It’s because the headlines are just trying to scare people. Fear has replaced scoops to drive circulation. Then it becomes a race to the bottom, who can scare people the most.
My personal rules in 9 years of writing for financial sites (and creating a site with millions of users, Stockpickr.com, which sold to thestreet.com in 2007):
– Always create value. Can people use your article to have a better understanding of the markets
– Provide analysis and proof. Don’t just give a random rant. Give real numbers to back things up.
– Be honest. If you’re wrong, you’re wrong. But don’t just cave in to whatever the current panic trends are.
build your network. Everyone’s got a story. As your network of contacts grow, the value of it grows exponentially. The network will be your source of interesting stories.
positive and optimistic, because in the long run (like for the past 200 years) you will be right.
Tell a story. Don’t just give numbers. Tell a story of where the world will be five years from now and how we will get there, starting with the events happening today. As the story developes into the real world, you will have the fuel for more and more stories/articles.
Be a little voyeuristic. Everyone wants to know about their heroes. Who are your heroes. Why are they your heroes. What are their “secret origins”? Write about them and follow their stories. Many journalists have made a living off of just Warren Buffett.
Don’t trash anyone. A lot of well-known writers disagree with this. They lose in the long run. And the long run is all I try to care about.
Note: I stole #1 from a discussion with Kevin Ryan, who is one of the founders of Doubleclick, Gilt, and financial media site, Businessinsider.com.