Author Archives: Dan Berry

Money Saving Expert’s Martin Lewis on ethical concerns with financial reporting

Speaking to students at Coventry University last Friday, via video link from BBC TV Centre, UK financial journalist and consumer champion, Martin Lewis of, raised questions about the ethics of economic reporting, and called for specialist journalists to declare their bias prior to publication.

“I am an ‘agenda journalist’, my job is to support opportunism,” Lewis said. “I know that I am biased. My worry is that a lot of journalism is biased without necessarily claiming that it is biased,” he said.

Had it been Lewis himself who had got Robert Peston’s Northern Rock crisis scoop for the BBC in 2007, it would have raised ethical questions for him, he said. He would find ‘breaking a bank down difficult to live with,’ he said.

“It is an incredibly difficult question, because if you answer publicly that you are worried about one bank, you can cause the problems that you were talking about,” Lewis said.

The creator of dismissed claims that financial journalists, particularly Peston, were becoming too powerful in the volatile economic climate, and said that stories had impact, but not overriding power in decisions made.

“Government has to follow the way the media is going to cover these stories, but ultimately, the people who are making the decisions are the lawyers, the people sitting in the Bank of England, at the FSA [Financial Services Authority] and in the cabinet,” he said.

Defending the future of financial journalism, Lewis claimed that there would always be a place for economic reporting, but that the significance of the reporting would depend on the methods used by the journalists involved.

“What we want is journalists who are questioning, but who also have to be respectful of the wider picture, and the impact that their journalism has on people,” he said.

The ‘money saving expert’ also insisted that journalists need an ‘ability to see both sides’ in order to avoid the potential pitfalls presented by a subject with such a large effect on so many people.

Who is an investigative programme for? ‘The people in it, or the man presenting it?’ asks Roger Cook

This week, Roger Cook was the latest journalist to publicly bemoan the state of television investigations in the UK.

Speaking at Coventry University on Thursday, as part of the ‘Coventry Conversations’ line-up, Cook expressed anxiety for the future of investigative journalism, the craft which made his name.

“Many investigative programmes can’t afford it now, the management and the commissioners seem to think that it is too much like hard work, and that it takes a lot of backing up.”

Asked about current investigative reporters, and the approach they commonly use, Cook answered

 “I think audiences aren’t stupid, and they very quickly recognise who a programme is being done for.”


Is it for the people in it, or the man presenting it?” he asked.

“We are going up into the ether where there are no regulations, so you will have to believe less and less of what you see,” he said, in relation to potential issues arising from making internet-based documentaries.

Cook also expressed his disapproval at this week’s cost-cuts and recent editorial direction at ITV. “In my view they are doing the wrong thing” he stated. 

”Take money out of programmes and fewer people watch it, compounding the downward cycle.”

Cook, who has been a journalist for over forty years, remembers a time when ITV would invest vast amounts of money into factual programmes, such as his very own Cook Report.

“It was once a great institution,” he said. 

”There was very high quality production in every area, but factual just about disappeared; the last remaining regular factual programme was mine.”

ITV should ‘spend more money on programmes and less on personalities,’ he said.

How many programmes could you make if you didn’t employ Simon Cowell or Ant and Dec?” he asked.