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Financial Journalism

What do you do if you want to see how your stocks are doing and what you should invest in next? Just pick up the Wall Street Journal or go to pretty much any financial news source online, right?


You might notice that you'll read a headline claiming that a stock has tanked only to find that it's actually up 2%. Or maybe your favorite blogger is telling you to buy a hot tech stock while the Wall Street Journal is urging you to avoid it like crazy.

So much for getting help from the "experts." Who writes this stuff, anyway?

Financial journalists go to journalism school and study finance before they take on writing assignments—all true. And yes, that can make their writing more accurate than, say, the pop quiz on Buzzfeed. But before you take the advice of the WSJ when switching up your investment portfolio, consider why people write.

Journalists are paid to get people to read whatever they're writing. So no surprise: sensational headlines are sometimes chosen over facts. For example, a journalist may write a snappy headline like "GE Loses $2.32 a Share"—gets your attention, right? But what about the fact that GE stock is actually up 4% because the company purchased a bunch of patents and right sized some data?

Writers are imperfect beasts and sometimes they're in a rush to make deadlines. It can be interesting to read up on finance, but just be careful and keep a healthy dose of skepticism in place to spot the errors.

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