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Preventing panic

Peter Horrocks Peter Horrocks | 10:33 UK time, Friday, 14 September 2007

The BBC News exclusive on Northern Rock receiving emergency funding from the Bank of England threw up some interesting broadcasting dilemmas.

A Northern Rock branchOur business editor Robert Peston had the information well ahead of newspapers (although you'd never know that by reading the papers today, all of whom followed up on his scoop but didn't say so).

Announcing to an unsuspecting public that a major high street name appeared to be in trouble obviously ran the risk of causing depositors to panic and withdraw their funds. So we needed to ensure we broke this dramatic news in a responsible fashion. And, as part of that responsibility, we needed to explain the causes of the crisis in a way that audiences unfamiliar with financial markets would understand. (I won't try to do that myself. Far better to read Robert's account (or watch this piece from the Ten o’clock News)).

But is it the BBC's job to tell people to be calm and advise them what to do? We are not financial advisers and there are legal limits on what our correspondents can do in terms of offering individual financial advice. We judge it is right for us to report the reassurance being offered by the Bank of England and the Financial Services Authority and our correspondents have offered the judgement that those reassurances are legitimate.

But it's not the BBC's job to tell the audience what to do with its money. Whenever we have commentary from financial experts on the BBC News website we always include this disclaimer: "The material is for general information only and does not constitute investment, tax, legal or other form of advice." Quite right.

Comments

  • 1.
  • At 01:37 PM on 14 Sep 2007,
  • eric elias wrote:

NOrthern Rock in Golders Green this morning looked like a scene from the Albania ponzi days of a decade ago

  • 2.
  • At 02:15 PM on 14 Sep 2007,
  • Bedd Gelert wrote:

Some words of wisdom, at last, Mr Horrocks. One does indeed have to tread a careful path on this between hyping it up into a big story, thus causing panic, and not ignoring the dangerous precedent this is setting.

This is an important warning sign which should not be ignored, as others who have been waiting to see who would be the 'Weakest Link' may now ponder making a similar request.

When I checked the news on Northern Rock it was clear that this had been in the pipeline for months. Are there warning signs from other companies which aren't a 'paragon' of virtue you should be reporting ?

  • 3.
  • At 02:22 PM on 14 Sep 2007,
  • Richard Clifford wrote:

The handling of the NR situation was clearly difficult. But, more generally, the BBC have failed to give the public an objective account of the economic situation - on houseprices for example, they have continuously bowed to the industry and City vested interests. True of most media sources of course, but a shame the BBC hasnt been more direct in its economics reporting.

  • 4.
  • At 03:09 PM on 14 Sep 2007,
  • Chris C wrote:

I agree it's not the BBCs job to tell (or advise) people what to do but sometimes your reports give that impression.

The BBC must be responsible in its reporting and not over egg the pudding

An example is that in one stoty today you describe a 2:1 vote by union members in favour of a pay deal as 'grudging' when to me that is 'overwhelming'.

More haste less speed might be some good advice for the newsroom.

  • 5.
  • At 04:59 PM on 14 Sep 2007,
  • Joss Sanglier wrote:

People will always react in the way they feel at the end of the day, and although it may not be your responsibility to tell people to not panic, it is your responsibility to pass on that advice from others - even if you have to dig a bit for it. Which you have been doing.

There is a greater problem on the website than in the broadcast. Your lead at the moment says in Big Letters:

Northern Rock shares plunge 32%

Then in smaller print that it is not expected to go bust. Now, I am in advertising (for at least part of my work) and we know that people read the big words as being more important than the smaller words. So we say 10% OFF in really big letters and "sorry, it fell off" in really small ones. (Apologies to an old and well loved poster on the tube)

If your headline read:

"Bank Expected to Survive" and then added "Despite drop in shares" then you would reduce (but not elliminate) the chances of panic.

Many years ago one newspaper reported that there was a salt shortage abroad. The rush was incredible, because the paper forgot to mention that we do not import salt in this country.

  • 6.
  • At 05:49 PM on 14 Sep 2007,
  • Jo Hardy wrote:

The reporting of the Morthern Rock situation on 'Today'- Friday - was irresponsible. Your reporter constantly questioned and repeated questions in spite of reassurance from an expert that the situation could be resolved. I am sure this, and other irresponsible reporting has helped fuel the panic which has been evident today. Your reporter was simply making sport - as he habitually does - and clearly had not considered the consequences.

  • 7.
  • At 06:09 PM on 14 Sep 2007,
  • Julian White wrote:

A very fair point. However, some very poor journalism on the 6 'o' clock news. The Northern Rock web-site earlier had a message that they had some routine works going on with their web-site over the weekend. The BBC filmed that message, stripped out the date, and added voice-over saying that there was restrictions to the service today. The BBC's TV coverage today has been sensationalist and sloppy and not as well measured as the on-line news.

  • 8.
  • At 06:10 PM on 14 Sep 2007,
  • Mike P wrote:

I watched the 10 O'Clock news last night and did not come away with the impression that the BBC was trying to maintain calm in the least.

On the contrary, the solemn 'national crisis' way in which the story was presented to head up the bulletin, seemingly breaking with the usual format, seemed almost calculated to induce disquiet in the audience.

There is clearly absolutely nothing for Northern Rock savers or borrowers to be worried about, but the extremely guarded and qualified manner in which the presenters conveyed this information gave a strong impression that the opposite was true.

All of the media have a moral duty not just to inform but also to act in the interests of their viewer/listener/readership by not wilfully stoking up irrational panic or hysteria in response to issues that do not warrant it.

Sadly, more and more there seems to be a drift towards doing exactly that in the interests of propagating a story.

The number of times I have heard the word "decimate" used to mean "totally destroy" today on various BBC outlets, whereas it means "take out one in ten" (even The Master on Doctor Who got this right), I agree that accuracy of language is quite poor at the moment.

Perhaps the BBC, as a non-commercial organization could actually question the wisdom of a system that allows banks to sell "virtual credit" to each other, producing commission for the bankers, but fake profits, unreal credit and pensions built from air?

  • 10.
  • At 09:07 PM on 14 Sep 2007,
  • stating the obvious wrote:

What's the point of the "we've got bigger balls than everyone else" self-congratulatory posts?

  • 11.
  • At 12:14 AM on 15 Sep 2007,
  • Andrew wrote:

I can say simply by looking at the queue outside of the Northern Rock Branch I walk past everyday that you failed, both in presenting the facts clearly and avoiding giving out financial advice to your audience (however unintentional). This simple banking process has been completely and utterly blown out of all proportions by the BBC, causing unnecessary worry for NR’s customers. I’m afraid to say that I find myself agreeing with Tony Blair for once, maybe the media does need to be kept on a tighter leash. I hope everyone at the BBC is happy when we see the collapse of a great institution thanks to the sensationalism of a simple story for their own gratification.

  • 12.
  • At 11:12 AM on 15 Sep 2007,
  • John Barlow wrote:

This morning Northern Rock's help lines for Internet Accounts are closed even though the Web Site says they are open 8-5 on Saturdays and 10-3 on Sundays.
So much for a 24 hour internet service or any service at all this weekend. Are they bust?

  • 13.
  • At 12:34 PM on 15 Sep 2007,
  • Ian Cruttenden wrote:

I have just listened to your report concernng Northern Rock.

The whole report revolved around the savers.

What about the borrowers.

My simple mind sees NR as the part owner of many thousands of properties.

If NRrun out of money to pay back the savers are they going to sell their share in these properties to get the savers money back.

Let's get he customer supplier relationship in the correct order.

The saver is not a customer to NR they are the suppliers. NR then supplies money to the people with a mortgage, the final customer.

So when this all rolls back the house is sold NR gets the money then they can pay the saver.

The people who need to worry are the holders of a mortgage.

Is this hypothesis correct or errornous?

  • 14.
  • At 05:18 PM on 15 Sep 2007,
  • wilson dean wrote:

I thought the BBC did its duty and got this important story spot-on.

These panics and runs on banks are literally as old as the invention of money itself. The Chief Executive of NR is only 45 and has been exposed as being ignorant of banking's golden rule: 'Never borrow short and lend long'.

What is outrageous is that the bank is being rescued(with our money!) from its mistakes.

At the rate the deposits are flying out of the door I suppose we'd better learn to call it 'Northern Pebble'

Wilson Dean

  • 15.
  • At 08:27 AM on 16 Sep 2007,
  • Nick wrote:

That is an incredibly naive and self-serving analysis, Mr Horrocks.

You didn't report the events in a responsible manner: you ran them as a lead item using emotive terms like "emergency", "crisis" and "bailout". As a result, you created a panic that was entirely unnecessary and may well cause a far worse problem than already existed.

And that's without even considering the emotional well-being of worried and perhaps vulnerable Northern Rock customers.

To me, it feels more as though the BBC was excited by its "scoop" to the exclusion of good sense and responsibility.

You should resign.

  • 16.
  • At 08:43 AM on 16 Sep 2007,
  • Pancha Chandra wrote:

At every stage, the BBC has to be impartial in its reporting. But readers also expect some sensible advice from seasoned financial editors or senior reporters who know the subject well and have been keeping an astute eye on developments. Spelling out the pros and cons of a policy or sequence of events with intelligent comment is precisely the job of the political or economic editor. The onus is on the reader to take the advice or leave it.

  • 17.
  • At 11:38 AM on 16 Sep 2007,
  • Trevor Thomas wrote:

I am appauled at the headline on teletext this morning "Fears over Rock's online accounts", it's pure scaremongering. Yes, the site is busy which is why savers get a busy screen but persevere and after several attempts you WILL get in and CAN access your account. I tried on three occasions yesterday, once to check my account to see a deposit had gone in and twice to see if I could get a login screen. All three times it worked within half a dozen attempts so please change you news item to provide a balanced view. Its busy but you CAN get online access!!!

  • 18.
  • At 12:02 PM on 16 Sep 2007,
  • anthony wrote:

Very few comments on here Peter. Whats happened, have you read all the criticism on HYS and only posting generally favourable comments on here. Hence why there is still only 4.

  • 19.
  • At 05:22 PM on 16 Sep 2007,
  • John Carroll wrote:

Although Northern Rock's Applegarth states that we can withdraw our money if we wish, the panic among websavers arises because it is impossible to get through online inspite of all the Applegarth assurances that the system is just slow. As soon as you press 'proceed', a notice pops up saying 'try again later'. I have tried for two days every couple of hours, and for example at 3.00 am at 4.00 am on Sunday morning with exactly the same response. That is not being 'slow' that is a 'crash'. If one is fobbed off about the internet system, has one been fobbed off about anything else? Do you have experts who can advise us how to get through to Northern Rock.

  • 20.
  • At 06:49 PM on 16 Sep 2007,
  • J.WESTERMAN wrote:

RE Chris C 14 Sept 2007 - “grudging”- Yes: one more example of a personal opinion instead of just the facts. When will the BBC learn? Does it want to learn? Is it capable of learning? It seems not.
Is anyone interested in setting up a blog that would publish daily examples?

On the general issue is it not possible to publish the unvarnished facts with references to information sources and discussion groups if it appears that background information may be needed. Once more, keep gratuitous opinions and comments out of the News,

  • 21.
  • At 07:01 PM on 16 Sep 2007,
  • Steven Martin wrote:

This story has received quite a lot of coverage. Could you explain why the BBC (aside from Newsnight) has given so little coverage (if any) to the new ORB poll which estimates over 1 million Iraqis have died violently in Iraq?

  • 22.
  • At 08:26 PM on 16 Sep 2007,
  • peta wrote:

If this editor's blog is an excuse for not providing an in-depth analysis of the background to the NR fiasco, you can fool some of the people some of the time etc.etc. Had this happened on the Tory watch you would be full of it, wheeling out one analyst after another to take it apart as with the ERM crisis. Instead you 'cherry pick': Kenneth Clarke saying he hopes it won't lead to more regulation, and some idiot telling a blatant lie by saying that public debt under the Tories was greater. Any half-baked economist could blow that out of the water - if you would broadcast it, which you won't because your masters in No 10 won't let you.

But David Cameron is right, it is largely the fault Brown's economic policies and nothing, not even the BBC, is going to be able to stop that truth from coming out as the whole, hideous mismanagement of the economy over the last ten years unravels.

As it is, we get Alastair Darling saying that he personally gave the Bank of England permission to bail out NR (I thought the BofE was independent? Silly me), a statement that he will surely regret in the days ahead. I will be interested to see if, at any point, you remind him of it.

  • 23.
  • At 08:01 AM on 17 Sep 2007,
  • Peter Gordon wrote:

I am thoroughly fed up with the media in general and the Today programme in particular in relation in to the Northern Rock affair.

The media, try as it might over the past few years to talk down the English housing market, senses a massive scalp in the form of Northern Rock. As a consequence it has engaged in a deliberate attempt to frighten Northern Rock savers into withdrawing their savings. It might yet succeed to the cost of heaven knows how many lost jobs. Certainly today's headlines seem to be calculated to continue on this course. Your reporters seem to really enjoy looking for long queues.

James Naughtie, not my favourite interviewer, engaged in an interview this morning with a Northern Rock representative. Mr Naughties stance was from the outset negative. His final question being pointless: 'how long will people have to queue today'.

  • 24.
  • At 08:13 AM on 17 Sep 2007,
  • Winston Gooden wrote:

The reporting of the Northern Rock liquidity problem has been irresponsible at best and might even have contributed to the run on the bank. For starters, the BBC's financial reporters in their presentation of the problem, especially during the initial reports last week downplayed the fact that the Bank of England would only have provided support if the bank was solvent. It's almost as though the news media, including the BBC wished for a crisis.
The interview this morning of the Northern Rock CEO was unnecessarily aggressive and self-serving of the interviewer.

The BBC and other news organizations are expected to report the news not create or make news especially in such sensitive areas that can result in serious consequences for the country.

  • 25.
  • At 08:49 AM on 17 Sep 2007,
  • Bhanu Dhir wrote:

If it is true that investors in any bank are only guaranteed their first £2k and then 90% of their next £33k, all investors with say above £35k invested in any bank are at risk of losing a significant part of their savings as a result of the mismanagement of professionals in the financial sector whatever the guarantees the Chancellor offers? If I am correct, why dont banks/building societies advertise that any savings above a certain level are at risk?

I know you have a very fine line to tread on the Northern Rock Story, but on Sunday at the end of Dateline London your presenter said:

"I must get my wheel barrow and get my money before it all runs out."

And in addition, one of the guest correspondents who knows NOTHING about banking was criticizing the government for, "bailing out a reckless bank." No balance to this statement was offered.

So, in what way is the BBC NOT contributing to the panic?

  • 27.
  • At 10:01 AM on 17 Sep 2007,
  • kampungboy wrote:

This is another form terrorism; white collar terrorism.
You pack and bundle lots unsecured loans/risks and let is explode causing fear and panic to civilians.

Suggestions, Ross Atkins should discuss this 'white collar terrorism' issue.

  • 28.
  • At 10:09 AM on 17 Sep 2007,
  • Phil wrote:

The ignorance of some BBC newsreaders is adding to the panic. One recently said to Angela Knight that banks should not borrow short and lend long. How does he think mortgages work? The last time I paid some money into a building society, I do not remember being asked to leave it there for 25 years! This is exactly why the banking sector is so heavily reguated and why depositors are protected.

"Whenever we have commentary from financial experts on the BBC News website we always include this disclaimer: "The material is for general information only and does not constitute investment, tax, legal or other form of advice." Quite right."

Come on Peter, the BBC's a trusted brand and you know that some people WILL take the advice offered whatever disclaimer you have.

  • 30.
  • At 11:56 AM on 17 Sep 2007,
  • Michael wrote:

I think this is irresponsible journalism. The BBC will be held to account when the markets crash, people tighten their belts and we lose our jobs. There is very little risk when the Bank of England is securing the money.

Let’s go for the sensationalism and pretend this is journalism! I am certainly complaining to OFCOM around the duty of care when reporting.

www.ofcom.org.uk/about/accoun/complaints/
Will also be making a complaint to the BBC.
www.bbc.co.uk/commissioning/tv/business/complaints.shtml

  • 31.
  • At 04:20 PM on 17 Sep 2007,
  • Jonathan Ayres wrote:

I first heard the Northern Rock news as the first item on Radion Five's morning show. Whilst factual I immediately got the impression it was subtley presented in a way that would cause alarm (ie as the first item) - thus creating panic - thus creating a bigger news story to fill further news programmes etc etc... How about reporting some real news having to use proper journalistic techniques and using the power of the media to do some good for once?(remember Ethiopia resulting in Live Aid etc?...can't believe I still have to pay my licence fee for such a bunch of amateurs.

Effective communications is a fine art and the BBC should know better - just this evening on 5 Live - "...shares plummet...".

  • 33.
  • At 08:41 AM on 18 Sep 2007,
  • Ben Rattigan wrote:

The BBC created this problem by causing mass panic over the bank. A problem at Northern Rock (or to refer to it as Huw Edwards did on last nights 10 o'clock news "Northern Wreck") never existed and the BBC should have pointed out from the outset the position of the bank.

What the BBC has done here is created hysteria and behaved irresposible. What we now have is a lot of old people walking around and at home with large sums of cash, many uninsured and all at risk from criminals.

A lesson for the BBC when it comes to issues like this is to think before you speak and give all the facts not a juicy selection because you have no headline news.

  • 34.
  • At 09:53 AM on 18 Sep 2007,
  • DozeBee wrote:

The media is right to examine its likely role in precipitating the run on Northern Rock. If it does not do so on its own terms now, it is more than likely the Government will attempt a more critical examination out of the spotlight with probable far-reaching results affecting our freedom of information.
Be warned. Big Bother is watching!
(No the letter "r" isn't missing)

  • 35.
  • At 11:26 AM on 18 Sep 2007,
  • Tim Pearson wrote:

For the pension holders with Equitable Life, the Northern Rock saga must seem somewhat unfair. The Government has decided to provide 100% protection to depositors but would not provide any significant protection or compensation to the thousands of Equitable Life pensioners.

  • 36.
  • At 01:06 PM on 18 Sep 2007,
  • R Painter wrote:

To claim that Robert Peston was ahead of the papers on this topic is ridiculous.

The Daily Telegraph was reporting on the troubles looming at Northern Rock about a month ago. The media should have been asking why the FSA were'nt more closely involved at that time.

  • 37.
  • At 04:16 PM on 18 Sep 2007,
  • Ben Rattigan wrote:

I agree there must be free, open, fair and balanced journalism, but the way the BBC reported the Northern Rock story was none of these. It seemed to me at times that the BBC was waiting in desperation for this story to arise because of a lack of sensational news.

The business/markets reporter on yesterday's BBC Breakfast programme was arrogant and rude and clearly not a professional given the attitude she displayed on air.

I am all for a free press/media but not the tabloid sensational vague facts and lies normally associated with the "red tops" and the Daily Mail which the BBC is slowly becoming a part of.

  • 38.
  • At 04:35 PM on 18 Sep 2007,
  • peter brickley wrote:

For a journalist to ask the question "is it the bbc's job to offer re-assurance..." etc, when it concerns a matter of considerable economic importance, just staggers me. The Friday coverage brought thousands to withdraw their money, the share price to crater. This alarmed the public. There was precious little balance of sensationalism at the beginning of the coverage and the rather muted assurance coverage at the end. I've never complained about any programme before, but this coverage was a horror. If this is the new BBC demonstrating its new values then please accelerate the removal of the license fee and lets see your future on the stock market. Then enjoy your fate.

  • 39.
  • At 10:54 AM on 19 Sep 2007,
  • Mountford D wrote:

RE: #18

There is a big difference between the Northern Rock and Equitable Life sagas. Equitable Life was insolvent but Northern Rock isn't.

The "bail out" by the Bank Of England is no more than a loan to help NR out of a cash-flow problem because NR could not borrow from other banks resulting from the inter-bank lending freeze - unjustified in my opinion as the situation in the US is very different to here.

NR could have covered all depositors money several times over so the 100% underwriting is merely a statement of confidence by the BoE. Even I would have given NR the loan if I had enough £billions.

Yes, I have lost a lot of money with Equitable Life as well but to expect the government to bail out an insolvent company is not on. Why should I and other taxpayers contribute to a company that had blatantly mis-sold, badly managed and cocked-up its business? I put my savings into EL along with thousands of others with eyes wide open knowing the risks and yet still went ahead.

I know better now and NR paying 6.9% on deposits with a 100% government guarantee is a fantastic deal. Guess where my money's going?!

  • 40.
  • At 11:10 AM on 19 Sep 2007,
  • P Langston wrote:

The country needs an effectively functioning BBC but more and more it is infected by smug incompetence with it's reporting of the Northern Rock story being the latest example.
It was to be expected that the rest of the media wouldn't pay any attention to the speeches by Tony Blair or Jeremy Paxman about the media but you would have thought that an institution funded by the public had a duty to listen.

  • 41.
  • At 11:23 AM on 19 Sep 2007,
  • James Buckley wrote:

It is absolutley disgusting the way the BBC have handlied this. Barclays I believe made use of the same facility the Northern Rock felt they had to a few months back, in fact I think it was twice within a three month period. This was half way down the news schedule. People didn't really notice it. The Northern Rock thing has been top story since in broke last week. This has caused the huge panic, something we didn't see at Barclays. The BBC, all news I suppose but more so the BBC, have created this problem for Northern Rock. Somehow it seems as though the BBC feel it is ok to screw over Northern Rock but not Barclays.

  • 42.
  • At 03:52 PM on 20 Sep 2007,
  • Alistair Potter wrote:

Regarding the coverage of the Northern Rock situation I feel the BBC's early reporting where the phrase "things have to be pretty dire" (going cap in hand etc...) was used, was a major contributary factor towards the ongoing loss of public confidence in this company. As an outsider this seems more like creating news than the actual reporting of it. This was surely an opinion expressed by a single journalist, which seemed, from the BBC 24's other coverage, to be completely at odds with all the other expert sources quoted on the programme at the time. My view is that had the initial reporting been more neutral and factual the situation would not have developed in the way it has. I feel News reporting on BBC News 24 has taken an unhealthy shift from report to commentary. With the decision to take on the burden of commentary there must surely come some greater responsibility. I have recently noted a number of instances in this program where clearly incorrect factual information has been allowed to be presented to the public as fact. I think the BBC 24 news team needs to take a step back from their current style of presentation and assess whether its quality of news reporting has deteriorated to a point where they can no longer be regarded as an icon of News reporting.

  • 43.
  • At 08:40 AM on 21 Sep 2007,
  • chris mclaren wrote:

This morning Declan was interviewing a woman who was trying to give a dispassionate clarification of the interbank lending situation. She had had to correct Declan twice on his broad-brush, one sentence analyses but was cut off in her conclusion to go to a piece on Elvis. Not even Elvis but Elvis impersonators.
This is supposedly a news programme not Yours magazine.Elvis is dead!
The relationship between Northern Rock and the banks is a problem affecting many of us and worrying many more.
Grow up BBC!

  • 44.
  • At 07:45 PM on 21 Sep 2007,
  • Paul M wrote:

And why should the (long-suffering) tax-payer have to fork out so that some half-witted bint on the Newsnight "Economics Desk" could pose about at Goldman Sachs in Wall Street, in the shortest garment imaginable that could possibly be called a skirt? And to what end? What did the(long-suffering) viewer gain in understanding from this extravagance? At least the legs were decent, I suppose... And I suppose that this email will be dismissed instantly as "sexist", when it is really trying to draw attention to the drivel that was paraded as "news" in the BBC's supposed "flagship" news programme by a journalist who clearly spent more thought on image than content.

  • 45.
  • At 08:32 PM on 21 Sep 2007,
  • Andrew South London wrote:

Northern Rock has/ had 1.5m depositors. It has seventy odd branches. 500 people queueing outside one branch is the tiniest fraction of the depositor base imaginable. The picture conveys a falsehood, but it manages to frighten people.

Imagine a rumour that the BBC Staff Pension Fund has gone bankrupt ,but the first 500 people in the queue outside White City will still be able to claim a pension, until the money runs out. Was that John Humphries I saw in the queue?

  • 46.
  • At 01:30 PM on 22 Sep 2007,
  • Conrad Jenkin wrote:

Can anyone in the BBC tell me why, in all the reporting of the Norhtern Rock affair on various programmes, not a single person was interviewed who had decided to leave their money in the Bank whilst dozens of people who had decided to withdraw theirs were given air time? Might this be beause this might have diminished the excitement of the story and that such excitement had to be maintained at any cost?

  • 47.
  • At 08:01 AM on 24 Sep 2007,
  • Paul Joslyn wrote:

I do think that although the BBC acts responsible other media does not and loves to dress up stories which can cause public panic.
This is an area that the Press Complaints Council should address as the Governemnt does nothing as seems to enjoy the spin for some odd reason

  • 48.
  • At 04:18 PM on 26 Sep 2007,
  • Ian Bourne wrote:

As soon as I saw Peston's first report on Northern Rock online, I messaged a colleague that it would cause queues outside bank branches the next day. The reason was that Peston tried to dumb down the story rather than explaining the technicalities. A story like this deserves to be treated with respect for such detail and seriousness, rather than blown up into something exciting. Follow up coverage by TV news was even worse. Chris McClaren's comment (43) is spot on. Ditto 15 Nick and 24 Winston Gooden.

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