Meet the Press: Survey Evidence on Financial Journalists as Information Intermediaries
64 Pages Posted: 9 Nov 2018 Last revised: 2 Mar 2020
Date Written: February 2020
We survey 462 financial journalists and conduct 18 follow-up interviews to provide new insights into the inputs, incentives, and beliefs that shape their reporting. Our study offers several important findings. For example, when developing articles, financial journalists rely more heavily on private communication with company management than on public sources of information, and they usually interact directly with sell-side analysts—favoring experienced analysts over prominent or award-winning analysts—for insights about the company. We also find that journalists believe monitoring companies to hold them accountable is one of financial journalism’s most important objectives. They believe their negative articles are more impactful than other articles they write, but they often face backlash from management in response to unfavorable articles. Further, financial journalists have strong incentives to develop high-quality articles that contain exclusive content; nevertheless, they also have a taste for controversial topics. Finally, financial journalists’ personal traits shape their approach to journalism and even affect companies’ reactions to their reporting. Specifically, liberal journalists have stronger inclinations toward critical, watchdog journalism; and female journalists face more negative consequences from companies for writing unfavorable articles. We examine a wide range of other topics relevant to the literature on the business press, and our results provide multiple avenues for future research in this area.
Keywords: business press, financial journalists, media, information intermediaries, social media, financial analysts
JEL Classification: M40, M41, M49, G10, G14, G20, G29, L82
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