Has Financial Review editor Glenn Burge handed down an edict that all business stories should contain a quote from a fund manager? It’s a bizarre claim, but it had the ring of truth when floated yesterday at a forum of senior business journalists in Melbourne. A panel of heavyweights led by Bob Gottliebsen, Terry McCrann, Paddy McGuinness and Malcolm Schmidtke dissected the future of business journalism. But first they had to deal with the here and now.

“Glenn Burge has issued an edict that reporters have to quote a fund manager with every story,” said a well-placed business hack. “This has come direct from an editor who believes the paper’s audience is located entirely in a few office towers in Sydney and Melbourne.”

This “tick-a-box” approach to journalism stunned many in the room, but Paddy McGuinness was not suprised: “The only decent parts of the Fin Review these days are its international coverage.” The use and abuse of the financial media by market insiders was a timely topic, given the Steve Vizard furore engulfing the news. “There’s one page in The Fin every day (‘Street Talk’) that’s basically a sh*t sheet for brokers,” said one forumite. “Should the nation’s financial news daily be allowing itself to be used to launder gossip from the top end of town?”

Another pointed to the controversial MIM takeover battle, which was strongly supported by institutions – and pushed through the financial press – to the detriment of shareholders. The event was conducted under Chatham House rules, so Crikey will not reveal the more sensitive comments from the working media. But in the interests of open debate, we’ll share the highlights of freewheeling discussion on the future of business media by a panel who between them have racked up an impressive 100 years (and 10,000 lunches) of finance and economics journalism experience.

Check out our full report on site here.

Peter Fray

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