National financial journalism is failing

The national newspapers recently ran a story from a press release by PwC about household debt levels. The narrative promulgated by the media was that this debt is now back at pre-financial crisis levels at close to £9,000 per household, and this is a reflection of improving economic conditions and consumer confidence.

As usual with stories in newspapers, if one wishes to find the real facts one is well advised to go to the source document. I did this and discovered the figure of total household debt is composed of two elements: unsecured debt excluding student loans, and student loans.

Now, here’s the important bit. While the figure relating to the former has declined, the figure for the latter has soared - and I would argue this is a direct consequence of the Coalition Government tripling university tuition fees.

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I regret to say this point was absent from many of the media reports. While the story-line from much of the national press is factually correct, the headline and narrative is in truth distorting and misleading perception.

Once again we are faced with an example of a failing of national financial journalism.

How can society and democracy function to best effect with national newspapers of such poor quality?

Kevin Hey

Castle Road, Colne

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