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:
1. Stop Yelling. Stop interrupting. Stop Talking Over Each Other: This is not Jerry Springer, its serious business. People's retirement and investments are at stake. Please treat it that way.
5. Lose the Octobox. Fire whoever came up with the Decabox. 'Nuff said.
7. Fact Check: An awful lot of things on air get stated with authority and confidence. Much of them are 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? Consider fact checking as much of the statements that are made on air as possible, and making frequent corrections.
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.
We're definitely in agreement with all of the above, though obviously the suggestions might be a tough sell, as they're pretty much telling CNBC to not be "so CNBC." Like point one-- would you know it was CNBC if people weren't yelling at each other, cutting each other off, or speaking in a pitch only dogs can hear? This is who they are, and if you were to ask network execs/talking heads, what do you think is your best attribute, they'd probably say, "our top notch ability to interrupt each other/our guests." The biggest problem here is that CNBC actually thinks its viewers enjoy this shit, and are somehow fooled into believing it's financial drama, which is why the the Call of the Wild segment was created.
But perhaps they'll heed the call? If so, we've got a few suggestions of our own: drop the Breaking News banner quota, which, conservatively, I'm guessing is set at about ten per hour. Use it when something actually is, you know, Breaking News. You're at the point where it doesn't mean anything anymore and it might as well read "SOS," or, to be more explicit, "Things That Are In No Way Breaking." You're not fooling anyone, and you're dangerously risking someone (us) going circus freak crazy on your asses next time it flashes without any accompanying Breaking News. If you're having difficulty figuring out what is breaking and what isn't, here's a quick guide.
Did Bernie Madoff break out of prison? That's Breaking News. Is Citi in the toilet? Not Breaking News! (Sometimes you actually run "Breaking News" along the lines of: "Citi's Reputation Not What It Used To Be.") Was Ken Lewis just charged with another DUI? Breaking News! Did the Dow close today (not even up or down, just close), like it does every day? Not Breaking News! Other tips: Dennis Kneale is only allowed to speak if he does so without being a schmuck, CEO jello-wrestling and knowing your strengths and weaknesses. Be serious-- with some exceptions, is brilliant financial analysis your forte? No. On the other hand, do you have a guy on staff who can take everyone's weight-training routine to the next level? Hell fuck to the yeah you do. Finally: never get rid of Haines.
Got any suggestions of your own? Please share them at this time.