Tag Archives: Personal finance coverage

Jason Zweig

Betting against what other personal finance journalists are writing


Jason Zweig of The Wall Street Journal, who earlier this week won a Gerald Loeb Award for personal finance coverage, writes Friday about how he does his job.

Zweig writes, “But humans perceive reality in short bursts and streaks, making a long-term perspective almost impossible to sustain – and making most people prone to believing that every blip is the beginning of a durable opportunity.

“My role, therefore, is to bet on regression to the mean even as most investors, and financial journalists, are betting against it. I try to talk readers out of chasing whatever is hot and, instead, to think about investing in what is not hot. Instead of pandering to investors’ own worst tendencies, I try to push back. My role is also to remind them constantly that knowing what not to do is much more important than what to do. Approximately 99% of the time, the single most important thing investors should do is absolutely nothing.

“There’s no smugness or self-satisfaction in this sort of role. The competitive and psychological pressure to give bad advice is so intense, the demand to produce noise is so unremitting, that I often feel like a performer onstage before a hostile audience that is forever hissing and throwing rotten fruit at him. It’s hard for your head to swell when you spend so much of your time ducking.

“On the other hand, you can’t be a columnist for The Wall Street Journal without a thick skin. I have been called an ignoramus, an idiot and dozens of epithets unprintable in a family newspaper; accused of front-running or trading ahead of my own columns; assailed as being in the pockets of short-sellers betting against regular investors; described as being a close friend of a person I’ve never met in my entire life.”

Read more here.


Bloomberg launches personal finance blog


Bloomberg.com has started a personal finance blog called Ventured & Gained.

“We’re doing this following the success of our personal finance channel,” said Suzanne Woolley, who is overseeing the blog. “We believe we can weigh in in a lively and insightful way to all manner of issues confronting Americans’ personal balance sheets. We have an incredible talent pool at Bloomberg to draw from and will cover the world of personal finance from all angles — from the emotions surrounding our money to the best ways to save and invest our money.”

The blog is a a cross-platform collaboration. The team includes:

  • Woolley, who ran the personal finance section at BusinessWeek before joining Bloomberg in the acquisition. She relaunched its personal finance channel on the web;
  • Nikhil Hutheesing, formerly of AOL and Forbes;
  • Ben Steverman, who wrote for BusinessWeek.com and Investors Business Daily before joining Bloomberg.

Other key contributors include Rick Levinson, who headed up personal finance for Bloomberg News before becoming associate strategies editor at Bloomberg Markets; Eric Balchunas, an exchange-traded fund analyst for Bloomberg; and Peggy Collins, a personal finance reporter for Bloomberg News.

Erika Vujnovich

Westchester paper hires biz journalist


Business journalist Erika Vujnovich has been hired as a member of The Journal News’ Tax Watch team, where she will write about how to teach their children about financial topics for the New York state paper.

Cara Matthews of the paper writes, “Kids hear people talk about money, the economy, housing and other financial issues all the time, said Vujnovich, 38. ‘We have a responsibility to educate our kids about this sooner rather than later,’ she said.

“Her answers to readers’ financial questions will appear twice monthly on the Tax Watch page, which runs Fridays in the newspaper and online at lohud.com.

“‘We want to hear from our readers in terms of as parents what are some of their concerns about money or talking about money or questions that they get from their kids,’ she said.

“Vujnovich, a graduate of Brown University, does marketing with Thomson Reuters financial division. She is a former writer and producer at CNNfn (financial news), CNBC and Bloomberg. She is a member of the New York Financial Writers’ Association and received a 30 under 30 financial journalism award from the TJFR Group Inc., the parent company of NewsBios.”

Read more here.

Walter Updegrave

A tribute to Money’s Walter Updegrave


Daniel Solin writes for U.S. News & World Report a tribute to recently retired Money columnist Walter Updegrave.

Solin writes, “As a fellow journalist, I admired the clarity of his writing and especially the soundness of his advice. There are relatively few sources of good financial advice. The space is largely dominated by what Jane Bryant Quinn correctly called ‘financial pornography.’

Jonathan Clements set the standard most of us try to follow during his tenure at the Wall Street Journal. My colleagues Larry Swedroe and Jared Kizer are an excellent source of financial advice. You can find Swedroe’s blog at CBS MoneyWatch and Kizer’s blog at Multifactor World. My colleague Carl Richards has a unique ability to simplify investing. His blogs appear on The New York Times. Allan Roth’s blog at CBS Money Watch is always worthy of a careful read, as are the blog posts of my former colleagues, Jay Franklin and Mark Hebner, which can be found at the website of Index Funds Advisors. Rick Ferri’s blog posts are among my favorites. They appear in Forbes. The Bogleheads forum is also an excellent resource for investors.

“Unfortunately, most of what passes for financial journalism is not informative or helpful to investors. Examples abound, but the most obvious are Jim Cramer, and almost all the talking heads who appear on CNBC and other financial news programs who purport to have the ability to predict the direction of the markets or to select stocks or mutual funds that are likely to outperform. Websites likes Seeking Alpha perpetuate the myth that trying to beat the markets is an intelligent way to invest, rather than simply gambling. To illustrate this point, the title of a talk I give to investing groups is: “Seeking Alpha…and Getting Clobbered!” That’s a more accurate description of the reality for investors.

“Updegrave’s final column typifies the solid advice that marked his tenure at Money. In answer to an inquiry from a reader who wanted to know about his personal retirement planning, Updegrave noted that he saved on a regular basis and funded retirement accounts available to him as a freelance journalist and subsequently as an employee at Money.”

Read more here.

The Guardian Money

Guardian launches U.S. personal finance section


The Guardian announced Tuesday the launch of Money, its new personal finance section, which will offer U.S. readers a blend of news, commentary, and analysis.

The section features the addition of veteran personal finance writer and author Helaine Olen, who joins The Guardian as a columnist.

The new section, edited by U.S. finance & economics editor Heidi N Moore, will build on the Guardian’s covergae of issues such as mortgage debt. taxes and more. The section will include animations, video explainers, web chats with experts and reporters, Q&As and and social community callouts.

Olen, who brings more than 15 years of experience writing about personal finance, parenting, families, feminism and politics, will cover a broad range of topics that guide readers through the world of personal finance. From weddings to retirement policy, feminism to student loans and career strategy to commissioned financial sales, she will report – and analyze – how we think about and engage with money.

“Bolstered by the Guardian’s open and interactive approach to journalism that involves the experiences and comments of our readers, our new personal finance section is designed to create financial citizenship, helping readers ‘vote with their money’ with accessible coverage full of news, opinion, and analysis,” said Moore in a statement. “Helaine’s incisive and engaging columns will guide readers in an analytical, candid way with sympathy and wit. We couldn’t be more thrilled to have Helaine join the team.”

Read more here.

Pound Foolish

The problems with personal finance gurus


Mike Dang of TheBillfold.com interviewed financial journalist Helaine Olen, who recently published an expose on the personal finance industry, including the journalists who cover it, in the book “Pound Foolish: Exposing the Dark Side of the Personal Finance Industry.”

Here is an excerpt:

Another thing about “gurus” like Suze Orman and Dave Ramsey, as you point out, is that they’re trying to convince you that they were just like you once, and look at how they’re doing now! Suze Orman was once a waitress, and as the story goes, she really had to fight her way to success. Dave Ramsey bounced back from bankruptcy. And as you say, Orman and Ramsey did not become wildly successful because they saved better or invested smarter than everybody else—they became wildly successful because they were able to sell themselves and their products to people.

The whole genre of self-help depends on the story. It’s like almost being born again. You know: “I had my moment.” Suze has her moment with a waitress when she realizes the waitress is richer than her, and Dave Ramsey has this moment when he has to tell people that debt is bad. They’ve got the story, and people like that moment. And so we don’t ask the questions. And Suze Orman, to be fair, was a successful financial planner. She obviously had an ongoing business. Dave Ramsey was definitely in bankruptcy when he started. But we want to believe. And one of the things I find fascinating is the conflict of interest in their work. I work in a field where if I accepted coffee from a source, I have editors who could get quite angry at me. But people will say, but Suze and Dave need to make a living. First of all, do they have the right to make a living selling you conflicted advice? And second, Suze Orman’s got $30 million, doesn’t she already have enough of a living? What are you talking about? Dave Ramsey is worth lord alone knows what. It’s a conflict, and a basic conflict, and I don’t think they cop to it. Certainly Ramsey doesn’t. He still goes around telling people that you could still get 12 percent annual returns in the markets, and if you want to know how to do that, Dave has his “Endorsed Local Providers”, and you can go to them. I mean, you’ve got to be kidding. There’s no way to do that, that I’m aware of. There wasn’t a way to do that back in the ’90s during the bull market. You might have a year here, and a year there, but to plan on that is just absurd. And it’s not right. But people are scared, and they want to believe.

Read more here.

WSJ  Money cover

WSJ ME lauds new personal finance publication


Wall Street Journal managing editor Gerard Baker sent out the following email about the newspaper’s new personal finance magazine, WSJ. Money:

This weekend, The Wall Street Journal adds yet another thoroughbred to our growing stable of first-class publications.

WSJ Money dissects the heady world of high personal finance, taking our readers though the endlessly fascinating business of getting, spending and investing.  Through profiles, features, columns and interviews, the magazine offers a rich and original take on money.   The inaugural edition out tomorrow, distributed with the weekend edition of the paper, ranges eclectically from a profile of Asia’s richest city to sorry tales of blown inheritance to a mogul’s secrets for hyper-successful entrepreneurship – alongside a host of other compelling features.

Cerebrally stimulating and visually engaging, WSJ Money, which will be published quarterly, is a fine enhancement to our coverage of global finance.  For our unrivaled network of reporters and editors around the world it also presents an opportunity to write high-impact magazine journalism and I eagerly encourage everyone to pitch for upcoming issues.

I would like to thank everyone involved in the creation and launch of the new magazine.  Mike Miller oversaw its development and assembled the team that produced it, drawing on a group of WSJ staffers and talented outsiders.  Jonathan Dahl steered the project skillfully to publication.  Tomaso Capuano supplied his customary visual flair.

Our latest product continues in the best traditions of Journal journalism.  It brings our world-beating reporting to an ever-widening audience, in print and online, and, as with everything else we do, it reinforces our status as the world’s indispensable newspaper.

WSJ  Money cover

New WSJ. Money magazine to debut this weekend


The Wall Street Journal will debut WSJ. Money, the Journal’s new personal wealth management magazine, this Saturday.

The launch of WSJ. Money, which will appear quarterly in the U.S. edition of WSJ Weekend, adds to the paper’s personal finance and wealth management coverage.

“We’re thrilled to announce the debut issue of WSJ. Money,” said managing editor Gerard Baker in a statement. “While others have scaled back in print, we’ve continued to buck the trend, expanding our offerings in ways unimaginable just five years ago. With WSJ Weekend, Greater New York, Mansion, Review, the recent re-launch of Journal Reports, the highly successful WSJ. Magazine, and now WSJ. Money, we’ve cemented our expertise in creating some of the most widely read and valuable content in the world.”

WSJ. Money takes a long-term approach toward finance and wealth, using the special tools of magazines — compelling storytelling, beautiful photography and memorable voices — to have a conversation about money and wealth with Journal readers.

The magazine leverages the Journal’s global news staff of more than 2,000 journalists, including award-winning columnist Jason Zweig and personal finance columnist Brett Arends.

A range of financial advertisers, including private wealth management, asset management, banks, insurance, financial planning, and luxury autos, are in the first issue.

David Gardner

Personal finance coverage is different at The Motley Fool


Personal finance coverage at The Motley Fool is different than other media because the organization holds itself accountable for its coverage, said one of the company’s co-founders on Monday evening.

“I think that’s a challenge for other organizations,” said David Gardner, who founded the Alexandria, Va.-based investing and personal finance journalism company with his brother Tom.

Gardner spoke Monday at the UNC-Chapel Hill campus in an event co-sponsored by the School of Journalism and Mass Communication.

“I’d like to see as much on personal finance as possible,” said Gardner. “I think it’s a topic that is under treated today in the media.”

The Motley Fool is publishing more content today than it has ever before on its website, added Gardner, and 95 percent of that content is free.

However, Gardner said that its content works well in some media and not in others. He was not a big fan of personal finance coverage on television, telling the crowd, “I don’t watch CNBC.”

He also noted that he and his brother appeared once on “The View” to make stock recommendations. They were brought back eight weeks later when the stock pick — Starbucks — had fallen 33 percent and were never invited back. Since that time, the stock pick has outperformed the overall market.

“Part of the reason you don’t see the Motley Fool on television is that it is so short-term focused,” said Gardner, whose first job was writing for Louis Rukeyser’s newsletter.


The need for professional and personal reviews


Kim Kleman, the editor of Consumer Reports, writes for Nieman Reports about the differences on product reviews in personal finance journalism.

Kleman writes, “Actually, I’ve come to the conclusion that there’s room in the universe, indeed, an important place, for both personal and professional reviews. I don’t pretend to understand the fine points of movie, restaurant or theater reviewing. What I know about product reviews, however, suggests that readers will pay for information they consider valuable and that you do better than anyone else. User reviews — what real consumers focus on, gripe or rave about — can help inform that coverage.

“Product testing has been the backbone of Consumer Reports since its founding 77 years ago, in 1936. We’re a nonprofit group, we buy every product we rate, we take no advertising from manufacturers — our founders wisely believed that our product ratings could be seen as suspect if they were sandwiched between various manufacturers ads — and so subscription sales largely fuel the revenue of our organization. (Grants and donations account for a small percentage of overall revenue.) You could say we were among the first publishers to adequately value our content.

“Our immense surveys of readers, the basis of our exclusive brand reliability information, and our ratings of service providers such as hotels and cell phone carriers, are second in size only to the U.S. Census, we believe. So we’ve actually embraced user reviews for many decades.

“In some circles, the rap on Consumer Reports is that we’re dream killers. That cherry of a sports car—the one you hope to buy when you finally ‘arrive’? Consumer Reports says it’s unreliable! That pro-style range you have your heart set on, the one the Joneses already bought? Consumer Reports says there are far better and cheaper choices!”

Read more here.