Over the past 5 years, I have appeared on various Financial TV shows over a 100 times. But I am also a huge consumer of financial news, in print, on the web, radio, and of course, TV. Being on both sides of the camera gives me a fairly good perspective on what does and doesn’t work on TV. I also have some strong  ideas as to what is good and bad TV in terms of providing a social utility, being part of the democratic process, etc.

Indeed, this is a longstanding interest of mine. Over the weekend, I referenced the current Columbia Journalism Review (CJR) issue that focused on the role of the media in the credit crisis, stock market and economic collapse (CJR on CNBC, WSJ & Business Press). This area has long interested me (hence, our media panel at TBP conference). But I was surprised this post generated 100 comments from readers.

One emailer challenged me on CJR’s CNBC piece: “Its easy to complain, but what would you do to “fix” Financial Television?”

Challenge accepted. Here are my general suggestions as to how to “fix” what needs repair on not just CNBC, but all FinTV.

>

How to Fix Financial Television

1. Stop Yelling. Stop interrupting. Stop Talking Over Each Other:  This is not Jerry Springer, its serious business. People’s investments and retirement are at stake. Please treat it that way.

2. Bring us People We Don’t Have Access to.  What various FinTV channels do really well is bring us long, thoughtful interviews with the likes of Warren Buffett, WIlliam Ackman, David Einhorn, and others. People we wouldn’t ordinarily have access to. Example: This morning, CNBC had on James Rickard.  More of this please.

3.   S – L – O – W    D – O – W – N

4.  Risk:  All traders must appreciate the potential downside of trades. So too, must FinTV. Explain stop losses. Understand Risk/Reward. Recognize there are periods when Buy & Hold is a jumbo loser.

5.  Lose the Octobox. Fire whoever came up with the Decabox. ‘Nuff said.

6. Separate the Signal from the Noise.  Understand that most of the day-to-day action is simply noise. If you look at a long term chart, you will barely be able to see 1987 or 9/11. If those major events get lost in the long term trend, what does the intraday jags, kinks and reversals mean? Very little. Recognize that not every data release, slice of news, or rumor is at all significant. Stop treating them as if they were.

7.  Fact Check: An awful lot of things on air get stated with authority and confidence. Much of what is stated is little more than junk or pop myths. Why is it that the more dubious a proposition is, the greater the confidence the speaker seems to muster? Right or wrong, never in doubt. Consider fact checking as much of the statements that are made on air as possible, and making frequent corrections.

8.  Accountability is important:  I am astounded at some of the money losing hacks that are various shows again and again. These are the “articulate incompetants” to use Bennett Goodspeed’s phrase. Why not keep track of the records of guests — and let the viewers know how their past few calls have been. Are they Perma-bulls or bears? Are their stock picks good , bad or awful? Are they reliable money makers? If not, let us know. (Of course, the better question is: If they are not moneymakers, why even have them on?)

9. Bring Back Louis Rukeyser: Not the man, but rather, his style. Wall $treet Week — Rukeyser hosted it from 1970 to 2005 — was plain-spoken, thoughtful and accessible. Quiet, contemplative, discussions, with intelligent market participants, revealing helpful information. The investing public would appreciate something of that sort — again.

10. Sound FX:  What is with all the bizarre sound effects every time a screen changes? Its financial news, not a video game. Kill ‘em.

11.  Embed your video (on your own website or YouTube) instead of using WMP.  At long last, thank you.

12. Investigative Pieces:  David Faber seems to have a monopoly on deep, long thoughtful analyses. Be they on Wal-Mart, the credit crisis, whatever, his long format work is a highlight of CNBC. More of these, please.

13. Most stock picks are losers. That’s normal, but the audience does not realize this. A big part of the challenge is informing the viewer that finding big winners is a low probability, high outcome, event. As in a baseball, a 350 hitter is a star. Explain this to your audience.

14. Stop the Bull/Bear Debate:  This is a vast over-simplification of the market, and often does not serve the audience well. There are nuances and variables that get lost when you reduce everything to black and white.

15. Partisanship: Leave your personal politics at home. Viewers don’t care what most of you think.

16. Respect the Audience: We are adults. Treat us that way.

>

Previously:
Murdoch’s WSJ Changes Creates Opening for NYT, FT (April 24, 2008)
http://www.ritholtz.com/blog/2008/04/murdochs-wsj-changes-creates-opening-for-nyt-ft/

Category: Financial Press, Television

Please use the comments to demonstrate your own ignorance, unfamiliarity with empirical data and lack of respect for scientific knowledge. Be sure to create straw men and argue against things I have neither said nor implied. If you could repeat previously discredited memes or steer the conversation into irrelevant, off topic discussions, it would be appreciated. Lastly, kindly forgo all civility in your discourse . . . you are, after all, anonymous.

118 Responses to “How to Fix Financial Television”

  1. Did I miss anything ?

  2. tawm says:

    Bingo on channeling Louis Rukeyser. Consuelo Mack does a reasonable job of picking up his role, although PBS treats such ugly capitalist free-market subjects with disdain….

  3. no more human interest stories during market hours (no one needs to see a reporter in a yellow helmet live from the pencil factory)

    more coverage of mid, small caps (there’s a big wide world out there beyond Google, Microsoft and Berkshire)

    more money managers/ fund managers and less analysts (lets hear from people with some scratch in the game

    less media mogul worship (the sun valley/ davos stuff is not actionable and should be on CNN, not CNBC)

  4. Mike in Nola says:

    Problem is that CNBC is mainly sponsored by the people who would be hurt by this approach. Watch the commercials: Fidelity Active Trader, Etrade, etc. trying to generate commissions from people trading a lot, or other sponsors trying to sell funds. Individual traders who are careful and thoughtful don’t daytrade and probaly would not trade as often.

  5. ella says:

    Cut out the right leaning partisanship.

    Fire the political hack Joe Kernen.

    Don’t attack someone’s comment if they are not present to defend themselves.

    Tell us the former business of any politician that appears.

    Discuss the fact checking on the show and cite the sources. Confront those who misquote facts and assumptions. Stop accepting a position from a quest because you agree with his/her right leaning policies.

    Become an honest analyst of the business news.

  6. martin66 says:

    After you fix financial television, can you do something about Iron Chef?

    ~~~

    BR: No, Iron Chef is perfect as is . . .

  7. Mr. C. Cheese says:

    CNBC, is glitz, babe…… Barry your talking about a pipe smoking tweed jacket wearing station!

  8. dead hobo says:

    Barry Ritholtz Says:
    June 8th, 2009 at 8:05 am

    Did I miss anything ?

    comment:
    ———————–
    Sort of. Yesterday, when I mentioned that CNBC should be referred to as CNBC-I, with the I standing for infomercial, my tone may have been sarcastic but my message was not. While your message above has good detail, it misses the overall problem. Fixing the overall problem would bring about much of your thinking ontl the screen.

    The overall problem: CNBC is a visual advertising newsletter. It strings together actual news, some statistics, and some thoughtful commentary and places it in a forum primarily intended sell stuff. The main thrust of the station is to sell commercials. Their focus is to make the network an advertiser friendly place. Good news attracts more viewers than economic news. The promise of instant wealth if you only put your money with their advertisers or their guests is implied throughout the day.

    What is very odd is that CNBC Asia is a professionally run business network. It bears only slight resemblance to CNBC-I. It looks like the pump and dump crowd runs CNBC-I while an entirely different set run CNBC Asia. Compared to CNBC Asia, CNBC-I looks like the assclown network.

  9. 14. Partisanship: Leave your personal politics at home. Viewers don’t care what most of you think.

    That would mean adios to Larry Kudlow, wouldn’t it? I don’t like him one bit(his TV persona obviously), but he makes for great entertainment.

  10. leftback says:

    I agree with you completely on the interruptions and yelling. This is all part of the Anti-Intellectual tendency that has been Jerry Springering almost all of MSM for years now.

    The assclown show that is CNBC will run until there is complete and widespread revulsion with all things financial. After the Second Crash, the Third Crash? I can’t tell you. But eventually they will have to pack up – Goldilocks, Green Shoots and all. The vacuum will probably be filled by Barry Ritholtz – perhaps on public television – as MSM will have to move on to reporting crime 24:7.

  11. Jim Greeen says:

    The only way any of these proposed recommendations would ever be considered is if first it could be proved they would increase profits.

    For at the end of the day profits and only profits are CNBC’s only consideration.

  12. Chief Tomahawk says:

    Agree with you BR. I’ll give Larry Kudlow a break (eventhough last Friday’s telecast featured a roundtable between Larry, Don Luskind, and Jerry Boyer…)

    16. Make sure your hosts are culturally literate: Joe Kernan boasted a year ago he’s never seen “Star Wars”. Are you kidding me? And he peddles himself as having this sharp, insightful wit. I remember the customer testimonials used for TV commercials way back when about “I’ve seen it 6 times!!!” Can you really trust anybody who’s never seen “Star Wars”??? It’s only been out for like 30 years…. That’s just bankrupt.

  13. The Macrobat says:

    Unfortunately, like any other for-profit network, CNBC is at the mercy of its advertising revenue. It often finds itself in the position of a sportscaster in the early innings of an already decided game. The need to fill the airspace with graphics, noises, shouting, or some other type of stimulus for an 8+ hour trading day does its viewers a real disservice. Combine that with the pressure of competition from other financial networks, and the entire industry blurs the lines between reporting, newsmaking, and pure entertainment. It is an irresponsible dialogue on the workings of markets that has ironically been borne of the very markets it reports on.

  14. WaveCatcher says:

    Does this mean you won’t be showing up on Kudlow? [BR: haven't been on in over a year]

    TIVO was made for CNBC. I fast forward through all the analysts, and the Davos, Sun Valley and Buffett worship. I watch only the portfolio managers and a little bit of Cashin and Santelli. I watch virtually nothing in real-time unless there is a major move underway.

    This way I can catch up on a full 6 hours of CNBC programming during my 45 minute workout.

  15. dan10400 says:

    why is there not an integrated live video/blog financial news source? i have failed
    to understand this as it seems to be the perfect combination of live and on-demand
    financial information.

  16. awilensky says:

    What is with the fast taking? Rap rap rap, backed by bumpers segments that have electric fuzz guitar chords and drum machines. Maria Bartiromo running her words together?

    How many times is the crew over at CNBC going to shill Freeport Mcmoran? Are they paing CNBC to make the market for them?

    WTF? YAbber Yabber Yabber,

  17. Transor Z says:

    Barry, your proposed fixes are all from the end user perspective. The marvelous WSJ anecdote over the weekend about one of Murdoch’s lieutenants awkwardly congratulating a roomful of WSJ journalists for “moving the needle” tells you all you need to know about the under-the-hood workings in news business.

    The PTI/Around the Horn format works well enough for ESPN. Problem is, CNBC execs clearly perceive it as “moving the needle” for them as well. By contrast, Louis Rukeyser offered the most delightfully awkward/wooden/scripted TV interviews ever seen by human eyes. And a ratings needle to match, no doubt.

    Long-form journalism is a dinosaur on TV. What passes for “long” pieces of “journalism” today on TV are over-produced murder mystery stories on Dateline with cliff-hanger segments before each commercial break. Or human interest stories of people overcoming disabilities complete with schmaltzy “inspirational” piano music in the background and soft lenses.

  18. franklin411 says:

    I propose adding:

    “16. Wall Street =/= the whole economy”

  19. call me ahab says:

    ella Says-

    “Discuss the fact checking on the show and cite the sources. Confront those who misquote facts and assumptions. Stop accepting a position from a quest because you agree with his/her right leaning policies.”

    good point- if it is truly a news show and everyone knew upfront they were going to be challenged and their information analyzed and assessed and brought to the attention of the viewers- I would think it would tone down the BS-

    much the way Stewart dressed down Cramer- with clips showing what he said versus the spin of what Cramer said he said

  20. Bob the unemployed says:

    Bravo!

  21. greg says:

    Fire Jeff Zucker and most of the producers. Bring in someone innovative. Warn every guest that the first time they start yelling and talking over each other, their mic will be cut. And for the love of God, please do not allow Kudlow, Jack Welch, or Dennis Kneale anywhere near a television studio again.

  22. Mannwich says:

    How about more coverage of the actual businesses (CN – “B” for “Business”?) behind the stock symbols? The focus shouldn’t just be on the markets (in CNBC’s case, the DOW), but the actual businesses behind those stock symbols in the markets. How about more in depth analysis there? And, no, I’m not talking the usual Dennis Kneale tech rah-rah garbage. REAL analysis.

  23. SteveC says:

    Oh, how I miss Louis Rukeyser. No yelling, no interupting, thoughtful guests, full disclosure. I looked forward to his show each week. Fortunately, the Nightly Business Report is still woth watching, with a civil tone and no BS or spin.

  24. diazepan says:

    agree w/ barry,

    in addition,
    let’s not forget the uberannoying advertisers:
    - the scammer video professor john w. scherer
    and
    - billy mays “nothing to lose everything to gain” health insurance.
    it’ s sad.

  25. mcmalley says:

    …why isn’t a circus more like a serious Shakespeare stage presentation ?

    _____

    {Apples & Oranges. What brings in the most paying customers ? }

    The business-model for FinTV is eyeballs-on-screen…. not serious journalism nor truth-seeking. The dominant ‘circus-mode’ gets more eyeballs & advertising $$$ — and profits (the real FinTV goal).

    It all makes sense by discarding the ivory-tower assumptions as to why that “FinTV” exists at all.

    Rukeyser approach was dull/useless to most business people… with a tiny audience resulting.

    FinTV and TV professional-wrestling have identical business models.

  26. Davey says:

    BR, loyal fan of the blog. I agree with your criticisms. I would go further and state that some, tho not all, of CNBC is a regurgitation of other news reports and not hard reporting.

    So what puzzles me is why do you continue to go on to programs such as Fast Money?

    It’s perfectly fine if you view it as a way to promote your business and yourself as an expert, but I am finding it hard to reconcile with your criticisms of Fin TV.

  27. Duane says:

    He’s got a book to sell !

    Next, he’ll be popping up on Cavuto and Glenn Beck!

  28. peter north says:

    I’d argue that the “actionable” focus isn’t what we need right now. Besides being annoying as Hell (yeah, Erin Burnett, I’m talking to you), it distracts from some basic understanding that could help us deal with our structural problems. Too many people think this is a liquidity issue, when it is clear it is about solvency. Taking on truckloads of debt to solve a problem of too much debt/leverage? We are papering over a problem that isn’t going to cure itself by masking symptoms.

    Frankly, I’m afraid that a lot of smart folks who have something valuable to say wouldn’t want to be associated with the game show/infomercial/Jerry Springer bullcrap that they churn out. I wouldn’t. Why bother? You will be cut off, interrupted, and badgered into giving the brainless anchors something “actionable.” If you have any kind of complex concept/analysis to add, you have to try and shriek it out before they cut you off. The final humiliation is that after they dismiss you without allowing you to develop a thought or explain what you are talking about, the grotesquely stupid interviewer will wrap it up by saying, “Well, I think _______.” Thank you, enlightened TelePrompTer reader.

    All that said, here are the biggies for me, Barry:
    (1) The anchors/interviewers interjecting their opinions/conclusions as we care (yeah, I’m talking to you Mark Haines).
    (2) The way headline data is taken completely at face value. Hello? Anyone there even know about the birth/death adjustment BS in that jobs report? And if the headline unemployment rate is 9% that doesn’t mean that 91% of Americans are working… Check the U-6 figure.
    (3) The ignorance RE short-selling. Here’s a news flash: shorting securities doesn’t make their price fall. A lack of bids does.

  29. Peter North –

    Big fan of your work . . .

  30. constantnormal says:

    dead hobo’s observations about the “infomercial” aspects of nearly all business TV hit the bulls-eye (bears-eye, pigs-eye?).

    When Barry reincarnates as Rukeyser, it must be on PBS. Or maybe on some web-based product.

    One of the better venues for lengthy introspection is Charlie Rose, for all the same reasons: focus, depth, lack of distractions.

  31. Mannwich says:

    And more accountability of guests’ prior forecasts on shows, please. It should be continually revealed just how right/wrong someone like Luskin or Bowyer (or anyone) who is regularly on these shows is over time. The host needs to hold their feet to the fire more.

  32. bonddad says:

    Great ideas. But it’s called PBS and it has no ratings to speak of.

    I will say that Bloomberg TV comes closest. It’s about the only TV I can watch anymore.

    Oh yeah — can we please get rid of Don Luskin? Pretty Please?

  33. rickety rick says:

    14. “Partisanship: leave your personal politics at home. viewers don’t care what most of you think.”

    br – ah my partisan friend. mayhaps you should apply rule 14 to “the big picture.” for example, the krugman piece last week that it’s reagan’s fault. your site would be better if rule 14 applied here, also.

    ~~~

    BR: 1) I thought I made it clear that Professor Krugman went much further than I in his argument.

    2) Criticizing the actions of politicians is not the same as partisanship.

    3) I criticize both sides, regardless.

  34. Mannwich says:

    @rickety rick: You must not be a regular reader at TBP (or not very smart or both). BR’s been hammering Obama and the Dems mercilessly for his handling of the financial system and the bailouts. You might want to check in and actually READ everything at TBP before focusing on single posts about one of your Demi-God heroes before posting such absurd comments.

  35. Transor Z says:

    My Declaration of Principles

    I. I will provide the people of this city with a daily paper that will tell all the news honestly.

    II. I will also provide them with a fighting and tireless champion of their rights as citizens and as human beings.

    Signed: Charles Foster Kane, Publisher

  36. call me ahab says:

    Peter North Says-

    “The way headline data is taken completely at face value.”

    exactly- no sober analysis of the reported number when it is reported- as in- for example- the stress tests-

    wild market enthusiasm- with reports in the MSM taking a closer look only coming much later

  37. willid3 says:

    Accountability is important: …i saw this and thought if the sports networks (etc) can show how well some one picks the winning teams, why can’t the financial do the same.

  38. drollere says:

    the problem here is in large part the audience, not the media. the usual reporting has been called “financial porn” and the suggestions here amount to making porn safe for kids. the audience wants to feel stimulated, wants to feel the rush and press of the data, basically — wants to be overwhelmed. they like the breakout feel of a crash or a run about to happen. the channels simulate 24/7 what everyone was feeling in the month before we attacked iraq. that’s the point.

    you have to disillusion the audience. we need a source that actually tracks the recommendations of cramer, fast money, all the commentators and guests. this is a major job of tracking, compiling, comparing, and tabulating. isn’t the basic complaint that nobody has taken the trouble to do that? (two guys looked at cramer’s picks and gave him a C-. that’s one academic publication about one commentator.)

    isn’t the solution here — a publication? how else can you compile and present all the data you are asking the cable networks to do, against their own self interest? forget about tone and the god damn octobox — go to the substance. nate silver made a nice little reputation by tracking political polls; he ran a web site. but a book gets you more interviews, more press, more cred. it gets you on jon stewart.

  39. barry,
    caught the Peter North joke

    lol

    - Ron J

  40. constantnormal says:

    @ mcmalley 10:52 am

    “… dull/useless to most business people… with a tiny audience resulting”

    Wasn’t the idea behind bazillions of channels that we would be able to support more narrowly defined audiences?

    Seems like there would be room for a Rukeyser-style everyman markets program, and TMA-oriented markets program, AND a political-economy program, each with their own “tiny audiences”.

    Instead, we have every network running their own vapid clone of either American Idol or some inane “reality” programming. Or Cops. Mustn’t forget Cops.

    Broadcast TV is choking on its own spittle. The channel expansion offered by HDTV is likely to be completely wasted, with reruns of American Idol, choose-your-own reality show, or Cops on the -2 and -3 sideband channels.

    Perhaps the web is better suited to deliver such things, and we can let the broadcast and cable networks die. If so, we’d better get serious about delivering decent bandwidth to every home in America, and obliterate the ancient regulated phone company/cable monopolies in favor of actual competition for each and every subscriber. The only thing about our communications industry that is regulated these days are the shackles that are placed on the consumer. Want Verizon’s fIOS and are unfortunate enough to live in AT&T-land? sell your house and move.

  41. leftback says:

    I hope Karen doesn’t ask us to explain the Peter North joke….

  42. Bruce in Tn says:

    Manny:

    I agree with your point, strongly. Maybe they won’t change the “coliseum atmosphere” on CNBC, or others but if the guest’s (1) recent history and (2) lifetime history were mentioned, it would self-censure some of the more brainless prognosticators (I’m talking to you Abby Joesph)…anyone can push the bullish side, but if talking heads went through a Morningstar treatment like a mutual fund, oh, that would be fun.

    “Here is Joe Blow. Over the last 18 months, funds under his care have lost an average of 22%. Since he began managing money, he has failed to beat the S and P 500 19 out of 20 years. Thanks for coming on, Joe!”…..

  43. [...] Ritholtz has a great post listing 15 ways to fix financial television. Here’s his list: 1. Stop Yelling. Stop interrupting. Stop Talking Over Each Other: This is not [...]

  44. Transor Z says:

    @constantnormal: Yes — not to mention all of the streaming content that would be available on-demand to internet users.

    It’s all about the business model. In my own line of work, I like to deliver deeply penetrating insights that exceed customer expectations and leave them begging for more.

    -L.D. Silver

  45. Clem Stone says:

    Sounds ok except please do NOT bring back Louis Rukeyser! My God, there was never a bigger Pollyanna on the markets than Lou. And don’t get me started on Mary “compelling values” Farrell.

    I never once in 20 years ever heard anyone on that show mention something like GE or KO might be a touch overvalued, let alone screamingly expensive and time to dump them. Bears were continually ridiculed as know-nothing wet blankets.

    Sure, Jim Grant would appear and talk in tongues once in awhile (to Lou’s amusement). And Marty Zweig might mumble some general negativity, but Lou would pass it off with a roll of his eyes and another comment about “bond ghouls”.

    This format worked ok in the midst of the greatest bull market in history, but as soon as the tide turned Lou was seen to be swimming naked.

  46. jonpublic says:

    Make it more like the nightly business report on PBS. Regarding the person who said PBS has no ratings to speak of, I’d like to point out that the Nightly Business Report on PBS is perhaps the most watched business show. I can’t find a link right now.

  47. Herb says:

    Interesting tv comments, but just remember: susan krakower created jerry springer…or was it maury povich

    mark hoffman likes what he calls ‘creative tension”

    ~~~

    BR: that “creative tension” is why Liz Claman, Eric Bolling and now Dylan Ratigan left the network . . .

  48. comet52 says:

    The network that brings us “Fast Money”, “Mad Money” and good ol’ Money Honey is going to go all PBS on us and start educating and having some real utility value? Hah~!

    Kudlow, inspite of his perpetual cheerleading and painful neckties, occasionally has a small panel of guys with real insight like Doug Kass and others. Other than that, I can barely watch CNBC. BTW I heard Jim Cramer likes Freeport McMoran…

    But Barry if you’re on somewhere amidst their intoxicating lineup of attention-deficit-disorder financial commentary, I’ll try to tune in, honest. Just let us know when they’re wedging you in between “Money Grubbing Mania” and “Get Rich Yesterday!”

  49. Bob the unemployed says:

    I would also add –

    17 – Get rid of the gawdy charts with the in-motion backgrounds and gratuitous 3D styling that adds nothing to the understanding of the data presented. Especially egregious are CNBC’s price charts with the yellow price line and the yellow border. It is very difficult to see a sharp increase or decrease in the price line when it is near a border. So what does CNBC do? They add distracting moving up or down arrows. Why not just clean up the chart in the first place, instead of making even more tacky?

    The people who do the CNBC charts and graphics should spend some time in Tufte’s books and seminars

  50. danm says:

    If the media cleans up its act, then everyone will see the financial markets for what it is. A farce!

    Everybody is responsible for investing for their retirement and if everyone was saving enough money, then everybody would be sharing the profits. If everybody was sharing the profits, wouldn’t that be socialism and wouldn’t their returns be closer to GDP growth?

    And if everybody was saving enough money, wouldn’t that mean the economy would be much smaller and more returns would have had to come from emerging markets?

    But if we had let emerging markets grow, would they have done it efficiently or would they have squeezed us out of our share of energy and resources?

    And of course everyone is entitled to a good advisor who will help them beat the index. But then how can everybody beat the index?

    Let’s face it, capitalism has always been about a small percentage reaping big rewards on the back of workers. Americans have deluded themselves into thinking otherwise.

    And the media is just a reflection of the general population’s lack of awareness.

  51. Fredex says:

    BNN, the Business News Network of Canada is good.

    I like Bloomberg TV and rate the London and Asia teams better than the U.S. team because there are a couple on the U.S. staff who seem to be interviewing for CNBC.

    Consuello Mack is the new Louis Rukeyser.

    Nightly Business Report – Paul Kangas is retiring?

  52. Alex says:

    Many good comments here.

    I would like to elaborate on what I liked about the “old” wall street week. Lou and his guests had very in-depth and contemplative conversations, which were quite witty and yet down to earth. You not only learned what was hot in terms of equities, but also how investing actually worked. For a teenage kid, it was an amazing form of free education.

    The yelling and interrupting is impossible. I refuse to participate in such nonsense. Is this how other news is handled these days, or is it just financial news that has the fake drama of people acting like obnoxious children? Frankly, I see it as the Costco-ification of financial journalism. To make such news appealing to the masses, they add a lot of obnouxiousness. So if that is true, I think that unfortunately this area will require a different approach geared toward people that are not white trash idiots. Hopefully, there will be a large enough audience for such a show in the U.S.; I am not hopeful.

  53. plantseeds says:

    rickety rick :
    nice ” right back attcha”. i do recall the, “my partisan friend” fired in your direction.
    funnny this would follow, ” You must not be a regular reader at TBP (or not very smart or both).”
    a bit of hypocrisy since argumentum ad hominem is also typically frowned upon. however in this case rickety rick probably smiles when he reads it because he feels such a reply further supports his claim quod erat demonstrandum.

  54. [...] Ritholtz posted a list today of ideas for fixing financial television. Since my CNBC Boycott post generated some interest (I was interviewed for the fantastic recent CJR [...]

  55. Mannwich says:

    @plantseeds: Just pointing out that TBP (unlike many sites and blogs) is not all that partisan if one were to regularly read the posts here. It’s why I come here. To engage in thoughtful, non-partisan/ideological debate on the facts.

    The ad hominen attack was probably unnecessary (and for that I apologize) but I find it annoying that anyone who critiques anything about St. Ronnie and his policies is almost always mercilessly pilloried for it (e.g. rickety rick’s assertion that BR is “partisan”) by his worshipers who are no better than ideological Obama or FDR worshipers.

  56. DL says:

    “14. Stop the Bull/Bear Debate”

    I think a B/B debate is useful if a time frame is specified and agreed on. Too often, the bulls only want to talk about the long term, and the bears, about the short term. They end up “talking past” each other.

  57. markd says:

    Agree w/ your list, just got to say the thing that got me to stop watching CNBC was Cramer and his wall of shame for CEO’s who been on the show & didn’t come clean (Cramer’s words). I’d seen the interview with the guy and Boo-yah fawned over him to the point I thought he was looking for a new job. If you don’t ask a question or challange anything he says Jim, you can’t complain when he steamrolls you. I mean didn’t you used to be a reporter???

  58. Joe Retail says:

    Separate the signal from the noise! Keep telling them. Sample headlines from my local paper:

    June 5: “Oil spikes above $70 mark; Crude’s rise is leading analysts to revise forecasts upward”
    June 8: “Oil drops below $68 a barrel; Analysts express growing sentiment that the oil market may have overreached”

    A friend recently asked what she should do with the “information” on the daily financial news – I told her to ignore it. These people give analysts a bad name.

  59. Groty says:

    It’s clear the format CNBC has chosen is designed the way it is to set itself apart from the competition. CNBC makes several hosts and guests compete for airtime in most segments. That leads to the aggressiveness and “talking over” of one another, which is probably encouraged by the producers. CNBC’s ratings are at least acceptable since they are still on the air and no material changes have been made to the format in years. If you want lethargic monotoned delivery, you can click on Bloomberg.

    It’s nice to have the freedeom to choose between two channels that provide similar content using very different methods of delivery.

  60. deanscamaro says:

    Remember, financial shows aren’t the key, driving factor. There is an overall trend towards “dumbing down America” in all of television. How many different ways can you cut “reality shows” anymore. Television production is all about getting on that bandwagon and will continue producing this crap for the overweight, brain-dead, couch potatoes this country is producing. “Hey, wanna supersize that?” “Have I got an ED solution for you!” “Have you been a victim of road rash? Call Ravishitz, Ravishitz and DoDo, Attorneys At Law.”

  61. rickety rick says:

    @mannwich: fyi – been reading for 3+ years but was finally moved to post some thoughts. re-read your bile you said about me. are you such a smallminded pr*ck with nothing to do that you sit at your computer waiting to pounce on your next victim. my post was that maybe the b.p would be better off if it followed barry’s rules for financial tv. is your i.q. so diminished with your advanced age that you couldn’t read what i said. get a life geezer.

  62. oneup says:

    .I think your assessment is on the money. Because of your number 1 suggestion I know longer watch Kudlow for that very reason. CNBC should send him to Host remedial training, if there is such a school. His pompous attitude and constant fillibusting his guests is annoying. My vote for a Wall Street host would be Tyler Matheson. I thought he did a fabulous job filling in for Rukyser. I really miss that show. I saw everyone during my 72 years.

  63. asiankida says:

    if there’s anyone I can’t stand watching on CNBC, it’s Larry Kudlow. I know the man is smart, but he just comes off as this humongous douche on TV, esp. when he holds to his mantra of “cut taxes and all will be better” mantra.

    Conflict is nice on occasion, but I don’t need to see it all the time. My senses get numbed from the constant bickering that goes on their news shows. They *are* news shows, right? I can’t tell.

  64. plantseeds says:

    Mannwich:
    “To engage in thoughtful, non-partisan/ideological debate on the facts.”

    “anyone who critiques anything about St. Ronnie and his policies is almost always mercilessly pilloried for it …by his worshipers who are no better than ideological Obama or FDR worshipers.”

    ..fair enough, agreed!

  65. matthew_t_hummel says:

    Love your suggestions! We have a lot of those things fortunately in a little network called Bloomberg – in terms of credibility, they kick the ass out of CNBC, where half the time I feel like I’m watching Goddamn Jerry Springer in 3-piece suits…

    Couldn’t agree with you more about the “Brady Bunch” octabox – gimme a break – that is the stupidest shit ever…

    And last but not least, get effing rid of anne coulter, Larry Kudlow – for Christ’s sake, the woman is a cancer and most definitely a “See You Next Tuesday”

  66. Pat G. says:

    One poster’s tag on here is CNBC Sucks. Enough said. It will never change as they are beholding to their sponsors who pay the bills. Like our government. Fair, impartial & balanced news is a thing of the past.

  67. alnval says:

    Barry:

    Great post! What you’ve written is a treatment for a new business TV show. Fixing CNBC would be a labor even Hercules would lose.

    Several folks have implied that you might offer up yourself as a candidate to host a new business TV program. I would agree. Not sure what the venue might be. I don’t think PBS would have the demographics you’re looking for but Bloomberg might. Out there somewhere is a spot for a creative mind who can interact with the public in an interesting, appealing and honest way about the world of business and their relationship to it.

  68. karen says:

    leftback, I had assumed he was a money manager until your comment prompted me to google his name. Now I know differently…

    speaking of inches, apple has come out with a 15″ macbook. previously only 13″. this is great news; still haven’t heard if there is a new iphone. i have a love/hate relationship with mine. aapl detractors shouldn’t underrate the benefits of apple apps for the iphones, either.

  69. martin66 says:

    BR: No, Iron Chef is perfect as is . . .

    Martin66 : And for the same reasons, so is financial television

    ~~~

    BR: So you think a competition between chefs, where the outcome amounts to bragging rights as to who makes a tastier duck, is roughly the equivalent to the channels dedicated to discussing equity and bond markets, the overall economy, and the public policy related thereto?

    Really?

  70. Stuart says:

    Even if all they implemented was 1,3, and 8 we’d be miles ahead. Hopefully somebody is listening. @ BR, Great post.

  71. [...] more here. Posted by Chris Roush [...]

  72. Porsche87 says:

    Agree with many of your points BR (especially eliminating the shouting and interrupting), but as others have said, unless it boosts ratings it’s not going to happen.

    Personally, I think taking Cramer’s show and expanding each part into a either a longer piece or a separate show would be great. Now before the flaming starts, Cramer usually has an indepth piece on one or two companies and often they are not big cap companies. He’s talked to the CEO and done some analysis. Now, instead of being all Cramer, add in some industry experts, ask competitor CEO’s how they view the company and how they stack up against it, analyze the industry in general and the key stats and how the company would fair with higher commodity prices or lower interest rates. Maybe even do some investigative reporting (what a concept), talking to employees or customers “off the record”. I think the companies being presented and/or their competitors would pay for that. Add in some technical analysis and what the options are showing.

    Take his call in segment and instead of giving an off the cuff, 30 second response, do a 5 minute Fast Money type analysis with a panel.

    This would give people more exposure to the variety of stocks (etf’s, commodities, etc) that are out there, rather than the very few that CNBC keeps talking about over and over again. After all, the dumbed down viewers want to be fed from a silver spoon, but there’s nothing that says it can’t be a big silver spoon and have a variety of flavors to choose from.

  73. I-Man says:

    I thought the purpose of financial TV was to delude the masses?

  74. greg says:

    Karen-

    Apple came out with the 15″ just for BR. Yeah, he’s got that much juice!

  75. [...] Frequent CNBC guest Barry Ritholtz weighs in with some ideas on how to make it watchable.  [...]

  76. leftback says:

    A confident man doesn’t really need a bigger screen, Karen.

  77. frankdibb says:

    All of these comments are music to the ears of CNBC execs. They mean you watch CNBC. Stop watching. Change will follow shortly.

  78. Matt in Nashville says:

    Bloomberg comes the closest to satisfying the above criteria. Perhaps not perfect, but the best choice in a very shallow pool of broadcast/cable financial news selections. In my mind, this is emblematic of the inevitable evolution from static legacy media (paper/broadcast) to the far greater kinetic and robust media which (oddly enough) I am utilizing to create this post. The developing “Cloud Computing 2.0″ looks extremely promising as well.

  79. leftback says:

    Time to buy, Barry, Apple reduced prices for lap tops, even those, ahem, extra large ones:
    http://tech.yahoo.com/news/ap/20090608/ap_on_hi_te/us_tec_apple

    “Bloomberg comes the closest to satisfying the above criteria”
    (and then there is Betty Liu …..)

  80. souelle6 says:

    That is freakin beautiful… Whoever modeled CNBC off Sunday NFL Countdown deserves public humiliation

  81. ShankyS says:

    GE will not allow their talking heads directing the “o”‘s propaganda to the masses to be silenced. GE needs the TARP $$ and will preach whatever they are told to preach form Immelt down. Guess they are following the Rupert Murdoch model of controlled speech (See “Outfoxed” on youtube if you have not). Funny how blogs like ZH and others like to pick up on the “uncensored” interviews that slipped thru the Gestapo. From a company (GE) that censors their shareholders, every word’s credibility should be questioned.

  82. ShankyS says:

    Forgot to mention that I turned off most financial television and turned on Bloomberg Radio. Guess when you don’t have to be on TV it helps one to be able to speak the truth. I highly recommend BBerg radio.

  83. Moss says:

    The facts are that investing in equities has sucked. This is the greatest story never told.
    Way too much emphasis on this stock vs. that stock.
    I believe we have more Mutual Funds than actual listed companies.
    If you ask me the macro environment is much more relevant now than ever before.

    People need to be educated not convinced.

  84. AndrewBW says:

    Can’t dispute your suggestions, but really don’t most of them apply to the news media as a whole, and not just the financial media?

    ~~~

    BR: Probably all, except the Octobox . . .

  85. [...] How to fix financial television.   (Big Picture) [...]

  86. Daffyorbugs says:

    I like Cody Willard on Fox’s Happy Hour. He has a forum for his thoughts and is given the time to express them clearly. I’m actually astonished that Fox lets him do this.

  87. Transor Z says:

    More of this kind of coverage: http://www.cnbc.com/id/15840232?video=1145787351&play=1

    Less of the BS.

  88. [...] Turn it off. Kidding, though that’d probably work. Barry Ritholtz was recently asked what he’d do to fix “financial television.” As there seems to be one network in particular need of help, he’s addressed what the good people over in Englewood Cliffs can do to make themselves more watchable. A few pointers from BR: [...]

  89. [...] Frequent CNBC guest Barry Ritholtz weighs in with some ideas on how to make it watchable. [...]

  90. CNBC Sucks says:

    Did someone invoke the name of The Great CNBC Sucks?

    Uh, Ritholtz, you aren’t supposed to admit to watching those types of movies. Sheeez.

    By the way, I caught some CNBC today and Julia Boorstein was looking really good. She had not made an impression on me before, other than one time when she openly bickered with CNBC resident idiot Dennis Kneale. I don’t know what was said though because the volume was off.

  91. FromLori says:

    What do you recommend for that schmuck Cramer?

  92. [...] my earlier post How to Fix Financial Television, I recieved the following email from the well regarded Bess Levin of Dealbreaker: Someone [...]

  93. guru says:

    A recent Tweet of mine: “Wanna laugh? Watch CNBC’s The Call muted. Kudlow and Centelli shout at each other; other 2 stare in space. It’s hilarious. $$” It is funny, try it some time. Mute the channel and watch ‘em go at each other.

    Also agree with the sound effects. I usually have my car Sirius tuned to CNBC and that’s when the subliminal becomes very intrusive. Turn off the sound machine.

    Finally, would truly love CNBC accepting that there’s another world out there …. the technical world. They give technical analysis a 3 minute slot on Fast Money and the rest of the time it’s dis’ed (especially by that huckster Cramer). I once recommended a new show as an alternative to Fast Money (call it Money Bowl) pitting TA against fundamental analysis. Score would be kept by following up 3, 6 or 9 months later to see who made the best calls on the show (0r something like that).

  94. Quonk says:

    CNBC World/ CNBC Asia is so much better…

    …never have Dennis Kneale interupting guests with a facespray of pablum. Easily the most errant and erratic voice in the history of CNBC.

    …never have the CNBC “all-stars” tearing at the facts like a pack of undisciplined dogs, not reading the ingredients carefully, and barking over each other while regurgitating frothy cheers and opinion.

    …don’t have to put up with Michelle Caruso Cabrerra’s blatant political editorializing. Yeah, I know, she is easy on the eye…but she makes me violently dispeptic…not a reasonable tradeoff.

    …don’t have to put up with Maria Tout-aromo gushing about how great things are in “the most important trading hour of the day”. Sorry honey…the most important hour is any hour I have money on the line.

    …never need to endure Liesman repeating the doctored stats pouring out of the Gov but failing to critically evaluate them. Perhaps CNBC should buy Steve a subscription to Shadowstats.com…that might help.

    Thank god for the mute button…which I engage about 90% of the trading day.

    P.S. Becky Quick is as sweet as Tupelo Honey. Mmmmmmmmm.

  95. bklyn99 says:

    Barry,

    a very worthwhile endeavor…the reader above stole my thunder a little bit. CNBC Asia and Europe r light yrs ahead of NY…they try to report the news rather than MAKE IT……i frequently watch mkts all hrs of nite and day…..CNBC Europe spends much more time on FX and Fixed Y….European viewers don’t have the equity/401 K culture that we do….CNBC Europe doesn’t grandstand or break out the pom poms every 20 min…the best anchor/host on financial news is Bloomberg’s Bernie Ho during asian hrs-bar none…CNBC NY tries so hard to be so cool…they r so into each other and their careers it’s sickening….i watch it ’cause the planet is watching it…always with mute on and then i’ll try to un mute it for a decent guest’s comment…recently i un muted to listen to Jim Chanos(someone whose opinions i really respect) and you could tell he was visibly irritated at Joe Kernan who was trying to be funny/self serving while he was trying to be serious….i think CNBC ought to have a split screen with Financial team on one side and Morning Joe on the other and just let ‘em talk at the same time……. oh and i’m not surprised by Gasparino’s reaction…that SOB can’t speak more than 4 words without needing to qualify it by saying he was out last nite with an un named source who knows so much more than who ever he’s speaking to …Gasparino is the financial equivalent of Mike Francessa on WFAN………

  96. DasKapitalist says:

    Barry, all I can add is another thank you for a great list. I rarely watch CNBC anymore. Also, those irritating sound effects are even more distracting on XM.

  97. EricHirschberg says:

    The best way to fix financial television is to boycott it altogether. It’s neither informative nor entertaining, although it clearly preferences the entertainment over information. Why? Because information requires effort, like fact checking, or the formation of an editorial policy. So, why should the consumer make the effort to tune in? I can’t think of any good reason, so I ceased to be a consumer.

  98. philipat says:

    Barry, you mean like CNBC Europe?

  99. [...] Following my earlier post How to Fix Financial Television, I recieved the following email from the well regarded Bess Levin of Dealbreaker: Someone (can’t [...]