June 10, 2009

It's really almost impossible to fix the mess that is financial TV because the on-air blowhards slavishly believe in unlimited power and money for corporations, and they hold average American families as a means to an end. But Barry Ritholtz has some ideas -- some of them we've written about before.

Barry Ritholtz list sixteen steps:

Over the past 5 years, I have appeared on various Financial TV shows over a 100 times. But I am also a huge consumer of financial news, in print, on the web, radio, and of course, TV. Being on both sides of the camera gives me a fairly good perspective on what does and doesn’t work on TV. I also have some strong ideas as to what is good and bad TV in terms of providing a social utility, being part of the democratic process, etc.

Indeed, this is a longstanding interest of mine. Over the weekend, I referenced the current Columbia Journalism Review (CJR) issue that focused on the role of the media in the credit crisis, stock market and economic collapse (CJR on CNBC, WSJ & Business Press). This area has long interested me (hence, our media panel at TBP conference). But I was surprised this post generated 100 comments from readers.

One emailer challenged me on CJR’s CNBC piece: “Its easy to complain, but what would you do to “fix” Financial Television?”

Challenge accepted. Here are my general suggestions as to how to “fix” what needs repair on not just CNBC, but all FinTV.

How to Fix Financial Television...Read on

He's got some really good ideas. I already proposed a Punditocracy Ombudsman to clean up the talking heads that constantly give us false information and then are welcomed back on the set as if they are geniuses.

C&L's Accountability for the Punditocracy Proposal

C&L and many other blogs have become the magnifying glass which scrutinizes the pundits that inhabit our airwaves and calls them out when they are culpable for the many wrongs we see on a daily basis. Tapper hints at that there should be some sort of culpability factor, but when we do it, they usually recoil in outrage. Glenn Greenwald's email chain to John King is a perfect example of this reaction to valid criticism. Forget about the predictions game on an election cycle because voters end up deciding the outcome, but how about when an issue like a possible WAR is being debated and the public only has the Punditocracy as their information messengers, so to speak?

Here's a few things the networks can do to clean up their act. (h/t Nicole for some suggestions)

1) Set up an Ombudsman with a staff for each network that isn't an employee of their corporation and have a weekly segment devoted to policing the media. They will also be available to take complaints reported by individual citizens and investigate them thoroughly.

2) Replay clips of each pundit when they've been proven wrong and let them explain their positions and why they thought they were right and ask them how they will correct their mistakes in the future.

3) Keep track of their infractions and set up a benchmark, like a 3 strikes your out rule for pundits. When they hit the benchmark, suspend them for a period of time so they can reflect on their mistakes.

4) When they return to work, ask them why they should be believed in the future.

5) It would be nice if they stopped using pundits that we know have been wrong over and over again.

Please add to the list...

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