A couple of months ago Alex Bloomberg and Adam Davidson ran a story on This American Life about the credit crisis and sub-prime mortgages called “The Giant Pool of Money”. It was probably some of the best reporting on the current state of finance that I’ve heard for a long time. It went through the background and what’s been happening in a away that’s easy to understand without being condecending. They later put out a second story called “Another Terrifying Story about the Economy” about commercial paper and credit default swaps. It was also a great piece of reporting about finance.
The beauty of these two pieces of reporting is how well they explain the topic of the story. It seems like most people don’t understand the news about the financial markets since what is reported in the newspapers is so bad. It usually reads something like:
…market shares slipped today based on concern over downside vs upside risk potential and leading market indicators in advance of the release of the Fed’s beige book tomorrow…
Which probably doesn’t make a whole lot of sense to most people (Fed’s beige book) since there’s no context to anything. Anyway, I was pretty excited to learn that Alex Bloomberg and Adam Davidson got their own podcast and blog over at NPR called Planet Money. They started running stories where there’s a theme for the week like “What is money?”, and, for example, what’s the difference between money and currency. Sometimes it’s nice to get some more insight into more the fundamental ideas and some context instead of just the daily reporting of the facts.
There are a couple of shows now that are following the same type of reporting. RadioLab is a great science program. It tries to report on science to the general public. If more of this type of reporting continues, it could really enagage the public. We could be entering a new golden age of journalism. Oh, and don’t forget The Economist.