I’ve never held back my disappointment in the financial media, who constantly provide their audiences with some of the worst advice possible.
While outlets like the Motley Fool aggressively cover stock picking — a stupid practice for 98% of the population — they target the masses.
I’m not even out of bed by the time I’ve heard about the Dow Futures twice on the local news and on the Today show from CNBC updates. If I want to know what the Asian markets did last night, I’ll turn on Fox Business, not News 4 Today in Washington.
The financial media don’t provide useful information to the masses because, well, they wouldn’t make much money doing it. Personal finance is a pretty cut-and-dry subject: once you learn the basics, you’re pretty good to go.
As we know, the media needs something to talk about. And there are only so many ways you can say “spend less than you earn.”
So What Should Financial Media Do?
Responsible financial media outlets need to spend more time focusing on their audience and not recommending mutual funds from their advertisers.
Instead of coming up with “the one stock you must buy” — which you probably shouldn’t — they should tell the stories of real people and their money situations.
This is one of the reasons Dave Ramsey is so popular. It’s not like he ever says anything new — he just applies it to his listeners’ situations.
One of the leading personal finance blogs, The Simple Dollar, publishes a reader mailbag weekly. It’s always my favorite post to read, because it’s real people sharing their real stories.
This was probably one of my biggest issues running the Online Savings Blog. I didn’t have the experience or authority to tell you how to buy a house (I’ve never done it), but I was (and still am) passionate about my personal financial situation.
I can share my story and talk about yours. And in the end, isn’t telling stories what media is all about?
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