Donald W. Reynolds National Center For Business Journalism

Two Minute Tips

Five tips for covering investing and banking

July 6, 2015

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Though you may not always be covering Wall Street, banking and investing requires a lot of attention. There will be big banks dealing with federal intervention and little banks blaming their city for its failure. As a money reporter, you’ll have to be ready for anything. Here are our top five tips for reporting on investing and banking:

1. Learn your assets and liabilities.

As with any beat, you’ll need to learn all the vocabulary and lingo before you start reporting. Knowing the difference between assets and liabilities is only the start. Pick up a financial dictionary before you set up interviews and know the background of the person or bank you speaking with.

2. Know the hierarchy.

The organization of banks can be confusing to even those who work in the system. A quick rundown of the system goes as follows: state-chartered institutions can choose to be supervised by either the Federal Reserve or the FDIC; National banks are supervised and chartered by the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency within the Treasury Department; and The Federal Reserve oversees state-chartered banks who choose to be a part of the Federal Reserve System as well as oversees banks and companies.

3. Consult the FDIC.

The FDIC insures deposits and regulates thousands of institutions; it is a huge source for data and information regarding banks and economic trends. Go to FDIC.gov to start digging around and pay special attention to the “News and Events” and “Industry Analysis” tabs.

4. Beware of the blame game.

Many banks, particularly small ones, will try and blame their failures on members despite making irresponsible investments and loans. Looking to recent financial crises and what made other banks fail will help you find stories that don’t blame the customer.

5. Get creative with visuals.

Banking stories often get the weakest of photos, despite it being such an exciting topic. Get creative with photographs and infographics that reach out to readers and enhance the story and ditch the stock photos of ATMs and two-line charts.

Want more? Download our “Guide to Business Beat Basics” for tips on covering money in investing, banking and other beats.

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