Syndicated columnist Malcolm Berko's many errors, outdated disclosure

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Ryan Chittum of Columbia Journalism Review reports Monday that syndicated financial advice columnist Malcolm Berko has had a string of errors in his columns about TIAA-CREF that many readers never see because they are rarely run in the small newspapers in which his column appears.

Malcolm BerkoChittum writes, “We also have a bone to pick with Creators’ disclosure on Berko. On its Web site, it says Berko is a financial adviser ‘at a regional brokerage firm in Boca Raton, Fla.’ Berko says he hasn’t worked as an adviser for two years and says Creators is updating his bio. (As of publication time, it still hadn’t been updated.)

“But disclosure for a financial-advice column should be more than up to date. It should be complete. Commission-based advisers would naturally be less likely to recommend no-fee products, such as those sold by TIAA-CREF. The Creators disclosure says nothing about Berko’s financial interests.

“Berko declines to disclose how he was paid and says it’s not relevant.

if by your question you are implying that my columns about T/C are influenced by the competitive nature of a difference in commission schedules than I suggest this implication could be insulting and that your conclusions are far off base and miles from the ball park.

“We disagree. But what really ought to concern readers is Berko’s looseness with the facts and the likelihood that, because of how syndication works, when he screws up they won’t know about it.”

Read more here.