Micheal Williams: Readers editor

Why we don't cash in on a financial crisis

Share
Related Topics


Q: When does bad news become good news?

A: When it sells newspapers.

Death, disaster, tragedy and crisis have been the staple fare of newsrooms since the dawning of time. And you can generally rely on a big event under one of these headings to put on sales. "Good story!" a news editor will often declare about something that most of the rest of us would regard as horrific. The events of 9/11, the Asian tsunami, the London bombings all boosted newspaper circulations.

So what about the huge world story of the moment? Hardly a week goes by without news of plunging stock markets, banks in turmoil, and panic on the high street. House prices are apparently in freefall and thousands of City bankers and traders are getting their marching orders. Are we journalists savouring it all, like hyenas at a kill? Some readers think so. Robert Jeffares emails from Chichester: "I'm sick of opening the paper and reading that we're heading for financial doom. The tone of some of your coverage suggests that you revel in sticking in the boot."

Richard Pinkus from Chipping Camden is even crosser: "History shows that recessions can be talked up and talked down. It's all about establishing confidence. When you run inflated headlines on the front page, don't you realise the damage it can cause? The negative tone of some of your coverage is frankly unpatriotic."

So are we guilty of making a bad situation worse? I asked two of our most seasoned financial journalists, with more than 50 years of City reporting between them, including the dotcom bubble, the traumas of Black Wednesday and the negative equity crisis of the Nineties.

Jeremy Warner, business editor at 'The Independent', says: "Sometimes the press is guilty of exaggerating or sensationalising. But we don't invent the stuff. There is a very serious banking crisis going on which will eventually have a quite severe effect. The press has at least served to shake the Bank of England out of its complacency and [this has] resulted in the sort of action we are now seeing to address the crisis."

Another senior colleague reckons it's "tosh" to say we're revelling in it. "The press didn't cause Northern Rock to go bust or Bear Stearns to hit the rocks or persuade banks to invest billions in extremely dubious and risky assets which turned out to be based on loans to Mexican illegals living in trailer parks in California," he says. "The economy is slowing of its own accord – a normal cycle – and there is nothing we can do to influence it. Would that there were!"

But the main reason why this idea is nonsense is the position of our own industry on the front line. Surely it would be crazy for editors to talk up a recession when we in the newspaper business are likely to be among the first and the hardest to be hit?

Message Board: Who's to blame if flowers have lost their scent?

Our story that pollution is stifling the fragrance of plants and discouraging bees from pollinating them had readers buzzing:

Eric Kovalak

Unfortunately, a side effect of plants that grow ultra-red roses which are wilt- and fungus-resistant is that they also do not produce as much scent as traditional roses. Genetics is the real cause, not pollution.

WW

It's the same as with our food. It has been so altered that there is no longer flavour/taste. The problem is from altering genes, not the air quality. Frankly, I am fed up with Gore's global-warming nonsense.

CyBear

The premise of the article is ridiculous. Pollution in the US and UK has declined dramatically over the past two or three decades. So, why would the scent have declined at the same time?

huh

Um, wouldn't scent-destroying pollutants rapidly cause natural selection for plants which more aggressively emit smells?

Tim

Something smells... fishy. Just another left-wing nut looking for a big grant. There should be changes to the ways in which these researchers "earn" a living.

Laura

Pollution is something new in the world? Then you'll have to ignore all the pictures you've seen of Victorian-era chimneys and factory smokestacks.

Hobgoblin

Sorry, but this is significant research. It's a question of how we're altering the environment, and not for the better. The barking US brigade are too dopey to understand what their country is doing to the world.

SilverSuited-One

The automobile, oil processing, mining, garbage, waste... these are behind problems in nature. Instead of protecting polluting technologies, try walking for a change. We are exploiting this world too much.

To have your say on this or any other issue visit www.independent.co.uk/IoSblogs

React Now

Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Senior QA Engineer - Agile, SCRUM

£35000 - £50000 per annum + benefits: Ashdown Group: Senior QA Engineer (Agil...

Marketing Executive - West Midlands - £28,000

£26000 - £28000 per annum: Ashdown Group: Digital Marketing Executive (SEO, PP...

Retail Business Analyst

£40000 - £50000 Per Annum: Clearwater People Solutions Ltd: Our retail client ...

Senior C++ Developer

£400 - £450 Per Annum possibly more for the right candidate: Clearwater People...

Day In a Page

Read Next
 

i Editor's Letter: We are winning the fight against extreme poverty and hunger. It's time to up the ante

Oliver Duff Oliver Duff
David Cameron addresses No campagn supporters in Aberdeen  

Scottish independence: Cameron faces a choice between destroying his country or his party

Matthew Norman
Mystery of the Ground Zero wedding photo

A shot in the dark

Mystery of the wedding photo from Ground Zero
His life, the universe and everything

His life, the universe and everything

New biography sheds light on comic genius of Douglas Adams
Save us from small screen superheroes

Save us from small screen superheroes

Shows like Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D are little more than marketing tools
Reach for the skies

Reach for the skies

From pools to football pitches, rooftop living is looking up
These are the 12 best hotel spas in the UK

12 best hotel spas in the UK

Some hotels go all out on facilities; others stand out for the sheer quality of treatments
These Iranian-controlled Shia militias used to specialise in killing American soldiers. Now they are fighting Isis, backed up by US airstrikes

Widespread fear of Isis is producing strange bedfellows

Iranian-controlled Shia militias that used to kill American soldiers are now fighting Isis, helped by US airstrikes
Topshop goes part Athena poster, part last spring Prada

Topshop goes part Athena poster, part last spring Prada

Shoppers don't come to Topshop for the unique
How to make a Lego masterpiece

How to make a Lego masterpiece

Toy breaks out of the nursery and heads for the gallery
Meet the ‘Endies’ – city dwellers who are too poor to have fun

Meet the ‘Endies’ – city dwellers who are too poor to have fun

Urbanites are cursed with an acronym pointing to Employed but No Disposable Income or Savings
Paisley’s decision to make peace with IRA enemies might remind the Arabs of Sadat

Ian Paisley’s decision to make peace with his IRA enemies

His Save Ulster from Sodomy campaign would surely have been supported by many a Sunni imam
'She was a singer, a superstar, an addict, but to me, her mother, she is simply Amy'

'She was a singer, a superstar, an addict, but to me, her mother, she is simply Amy'

Exclusive extract from Janis Winehouse's poignant new memoir
Is this the role to win Cumberbatch an Oscar?

Is this the role to win Cumberbatch an Oscar?

The Imitation Game, film review
England and Roy Hodgson take a joint step towards redemption in Basel

England and Hodgson take a joint step towards redemption

Welbeck double puts England on the road to Euro 2016
Relatives fight over Vivian Maier’s rare photos

Relatives fight over Vivian Maier’s rare photos

Pictures removed from public view as courts decide ownership
‘Fashion has to be fun. It’s a big business, not a cure for cancer’

‘Fashion has to be fun. It’s a big business, not a cure for cancer’

Donatella Versace at New York Fashion Week