Ten quick tips on personal finance reporting

by International Center for Journalists
Oct 30, 2018 in Specialized Topics

Personal finance journalism gives consumers enough independent, unbiased information to make intelligent financial choices, whether it’s purchasing life insurance or saving for retirement.

Personal finance journalism, while it includes a lot of numbers, should also be entertainment to the consumer. It should explain to them the importance of the decisions that they make, whatever they choose. Here are some basic tips for journalists who want to write better stories on these issues.

10 quick tips on personal finance reporting

  1. Read mainstream personal finance publications or watch personal finance shows and think about how their stories can be adapted to your community.

  2. Always try to begin your story with an example of an affected person in your audience.

  3. Use numbers to back up your story. Government sources such as the U.S. Census Bureau and the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics have lots of data you can use for free.

  4. Keep your story balanced. If you are quoting experts on a topic, find those with opposing viewpoints.

  5. Ask the dumb questions. These are the ones that your readers or viewers will want to know the answers to.

  6. Make sure your writing is technical enough to explain the topic, but simple enough so that anyone can understand what it is you’re writing about.

  7. Unless you’re writing a signed column, don’t write about your personal experiences. Let the experts provide the guidance.

  8. Give the reader something to take away from the story. Charts and graphics may help.

  9. Don’t provide your opinion. If you were a personal finance expert, you wouldn’t be a journalist. And don’t promise results for a certain strategy. That’s dangerous.

  10. Have fun, and make sure that fun shows in your story. Personal finance journalism can be one of the most rewarding stories to write.

Image: morguefile.

This post was originally part of an online course by ICFJ Anywhere, which supports journalists worldwide with free training on a range of topics. Courses are offered in a variety of languages including English, Arabic, Persian, Spanish, Portuguese, Turkish and French. For the latest ICFJ Anywhere course offerings, click here.