The BBC has appointed Robert Peston of the Sunday Times to take Jeff Randell’s old job as Business Editor. The BBC also has a very talented economics editor in the form of Evan Davies. Yet where is the Personal Finance Editor? Or even the (grade lower) personal finance correspondent?
It doesn’t have one. BBC news continues to ignore the personal finance agenda. When stories do arrive it uses its business or economics specialists to cover the detail.
Think of the stories: Equitable Life, Pensions and Endowment Misselling, the pensions crisis, the rise of house prices, and the trillion pound UK debts. All handled by people outside their subject moving into personal finance.
And for those who think the discipline differences are narrow, well I know I would struggle to talk about the economy like an economist, or analyse finance results like a business journalist, so how come in this most important area for real people they just throw in ad-hoc non specialists?
Now before anyone thinks it, I’m not looking for a job. I don’t want to work in news, I prefer ‘programmes’. It’s not my thing, this site and my newspaper work massively over working in news – guest appearances, great, working there – never! And to make it crystal clear let me say if I were offered the job I wouldn’t take it (this isn’t a politican’s posturing).
There’s no shortage of good candidates such as the very experienced Paul Lewis MoneyBox presenter, Patrick Collinson PF Editor of the Guardian, Simon Gompertz off Working Lunch, Jeff Prestridge from the Mail on Sunday, David Prosser of the Indy or take someone like the talented Richard Dyson on the Mail on Sunday as a correspondent with a view to moving him up later (sadly only men sprang to mind, I’m sure they’re are some great female PF hacks who should be in the fray too, but as I’m writing at speed none popped into the grey cells).
However systematically the Beeb has ignored personal finance in its news bulletins. I fail to understand this. When I was a news journalist at the Beeb, the enormous research project called the programme strategy review revealed that what people wanted was ‘news that impacts the pound in people’s pockets’. So what did they do? Appoint a business editor with a remit to “understand and explain the agenda of the UK’s business”. Yet where is the editor to look after consumers and their interests?
This isn’t an anti-Beeb statement, it’s more a ‘please, please, please’ find yourself a good personal finance journalist and start to set the agenda.