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Power Hour debate raises concerns over the influence of financial press

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  • 05/09/2002
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Concerns are growing that the press is taking on a more influential and educational role in the mort...

Concerns are growing that the press is taking on a more influential and educational role in the mortgage market, according to guests at the latest Mortgage Solutions ‘Power Hour.’

Speaking at the debate, Peter Timberlake, PR manager at Legal & General, said press hype over issues such as endowments can do a disservice to readers of the national press.

‘They can quickly create a certain amount of concern among the reading public. These readers phone their lenders and often find their concerns are unfounded, or less founded than they were led to believe by the press. This is because it has not been presented in as objective fashion as it could have been.’

Alex Bland, consultant at public relations firm Proteus, said while the press can’t make an issue out of nothing, it can build issues up only to knock them later on, causing problems for those who follow the personal finance pages.

‘Take buy to let, for example. This has become very popular over the last few years and a large part of that is due to media exposure. Now it is receiving more negative coverage. Any problems in the future are partly down the fact they have opened it up to the financially less experienced, who perhaps would not have considered it but for all the coverage.’

The consensus of opinion around the table was that the quasi-educational role of the press could prove damaging if people accept what is written without seeking professional advice.

Timberlake said: ‘The press should not take away from the role of the financial advisers in dispensing advice. And while the division between a proper education and providing information that empowers readers is a fine line, I think it is more about providing useful information than providing advice.

‘The role of the press should be to inform the readership with sufficiently balanced pieces to empower them to make objective decisions, or seek appropriate advice by talking to the right people.’


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