The challenges and opportunities of personal finance reporting for young people

Posted By Student Newsroom on Friday April 28, 2017

By Hannah Levitt
Medill News Service

Engaging directly with the audience in an interesting and accessible way is essential to covering personal finance for millennials, according to two personal finance journalists.

Susie Poppick, senior money editor at Mic, and Brianna McGurran, student loans and personal finance columnist at NerdWallet, said the key is to create content that is relevant, informative and inclusive.

“No one wants to be condescended to, they just want honest, frank advice,” Poppick said.

McGurran said that well-placed cultural references, such as quoting Beyoncé’s “Single Ladies” when talking about merging finances with a significant other, help with this by saying “I get you, I’m in it with you.”

The two spoke at the Society of American Business Editors and Writers spring conference in Seattle on Friday in a session titled “Personal Finance for the Uber Generation.”

“The best way to deliver business news, in my opinion, to an audience that is not necessarily interested, is to show them how macroeconomic trends affect their lives,” Poppick said.

Poppick cited Snap Inc.’s initial public offering in March as a moment to open up a conversation with young people about stocks. Young people were organically interested this topic, which provided a great opportunity to do a primer on IPOs, Poppick said.

McGurran also emphasized the importance of seizing on the opportunity to answer specific questions that young people have. In her column, she looks to answer questions that people want to know the answer to but don’t know where to go or who to ask.

Personal Finance for the Uber Generation

Susie Poppick, senior money editor at Mic, and Brianna McGurran, student loans and personal finance columnist at NerdWallet, discuss how to reach a millennial audience.

Thinking about the behavior of the age group and figuring out what the story is for that audience, specifically, is the key to covering big stories in a way that will reach a young audience, the panelists said.

More direct engagement, such as live question-and-answer sessions and using Snapchat and other emerging platforms would also make a big difference, McGurran said.

Ted Beck, president and CEO of the National Endowment for Financial Education, opened the panel by saying that there are presently a lot of behavioral questions around young adults’ financial decisions, specifically regarding the impact of debt and the overhang of the Great Recession. NEFE seeks to empower financial decision-making for all individuals, and effective personal finance journalism for all demographics is a key element of that.

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