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Journalists vs Stock Analysts

Note:  the following thoughts, comments and ideas represent my opinions and beliefs. My primary concerns are financial and economic in nature but unfortunately the political may bleed over from time to time. I send these commentaries out on a "sometimes frequent" basis.

Journalists vs stock analysts

Financial analysts are understandably expected to be unbiased investigators concerned with getting to the "truth" of the financial circumstances of a company. This is an imperfect science and great care has to be exercised in how the information is presented to clients both current and prospective.

Over time we have seen cases where this was not the reality. Analysts being paid to promote a security and hyping company traits or being privy to inside information and granted favored status were all too often prevalent some number of years ago. It's OK to be paid to tout a security as long as it's honest but not divulging compensation arrangements is at best unethical and casts doubt over the ENTIRE industry. Maybe or not you are aware that laws have been enacted to stop such behavior and loss of employment is the least of your worries if you violate these principles.

Once upon a time, journalism was regarded by society as filling a role similar to that as an analyst or board of directors of a public company - standing in place of the rightful owners who aren't in a position to know what's going on "behind the scenes". Likewise, the News media and its people were viewed as a protectors of sorts of the citizenry against an overreaching government.

Today, not at all.

The media is very much like a biased equity analyst of old and I would suggest to you every bit as unethical. The media, regardless of its form, seems filled with zealots ignorant of economic or financial fact but armed with "pen and paper" and intent on moving their agenda forward. The payoff may come in many forms including, but not limited to, favored status with special access to players or simply seeing their ideology promoted.

Tell me why this should not result in skepticism of the entire news media just like the media suggested for the finance industry in the late '90's and early 2000's? In fact, I would say there has been a significant increase in skepticism regarding news media and it's justified even though it seems to be labeled as a type of conspiracy theory.

Why shouldn't journalists lose their jobs over playing loose with facts or just outright fraudulent reporting just like the analyst? I would say in the journalism arena this hasn't happened nearly enough.

Both industries, finance and news media, are vital to a well functioning society. Granted, no one is perfect but the information in both areas should be gathered and delivered with a degree of
care so that integrity is maintained. Journalists are not off limits.

Good luck to you in the search for informed and honest information and advice.

Mike Wiginton, CFA