SABEW hosts conference discussing business writing

Ayse Kelce

On Nov. 12, The Society for Advancing Business Editing and Writing hosted its fall conference at Reuters in Times Square. With the contribution of experienced business and financial journalists and experts, the conference focused on the coverage of recent economic issues.

The first panel discussed recession coverage by business journalists and how to prepare audiences for the next recession. Kevin Hall, former president of SABEW, moderated the panel that consisted of journalists who had experienced several recessions. 

Panelists included Mark Hamrick from Bankrate, Heather Timmons from Reuters, and Diana Henriques, an award-winning financial journalist and author of five books on journalism history.

Panelists shared their experiences of covering various economic crises and the long-term economic indicators of recessions. Hamrick said that the recession is already here for many Americans, while implying that a recession is inevitable during his speech.

Henriques said that the credibility of journalists was undermined right before the 2008 financial crisis, and that is why the general public claimed that there was not enough media coverage during it.

“Modern day recessions, without a doubt, are less severe,” she added.

The SABEW Fall Conference did not only focus on journalists, but also hosted experts who shared their perspectives and predictions given the previous and current financial policies nationwide. 

Philadelphia Federal Reserve Bank President Patrick Harker shared his insights about the recent rate cuts and long-term monetary policies by the Federal Reserve during his Q&A session with Heather Long from The Washington Post.

“The independence of the Fed is critically important,” Harker said, when asked about Fed decisions that could potentially affect political behavior. He added that its decisions on monetary policies were made without the pressure of thinking about the political consequences.

Harker admitted that he was against the rate cut decision by the Fed that was announced this October. He underlined that the lack of investments are not tied with rates, and that uncertainty is the real problem.

“I think we were about neutral. If anything, we might be slightly accommodative,” Harker said when asked to describe the current monetary policy.

Harker also said that the United States was certainly not ready for negative interest rates.

“Americans assume, wrongly, but they assume that money markets are equivalent to savings accounts,” he added.

Harker talked about a potential future project to create a Fed digital currency. He said that it was inevitable for this discussion to come up as technology keeps evolving.

“There is going to be continued demand for digital versions of money of every sort” he said, and talked about some European nations like Sweden that are working on similar projects. 

However, Harker added, the Fed should not be a first mover on this.

There were also panel discussions on presidential candidates’ Medicare plans, data journalism, social impact investing and reporting partnerships.