By Erin Schilling, University of Georgia
Money divides Baby Boomers and Generation Z’ers just as much as it connects them.
Young people are now using the blasé “OK, Boomer” meme to defend against the “snowflake” snub from older folks, creating a virtual war in which no topic — especially money management — is safe from fire.
But personal finance gets tricky. Young adults need the advice and knowledge from the older generation to navigate a world in a responsible way, but the changes in the market and the way in which young people consume news has created a disconnect between personal finance experts and recent graduates.
At a personal finance panel at the Society for Advancing Business Editing and Writing conference in New York, Dan Colarusso, senior vice president of CNBC, noted that young people have to be more flexible with their finances than previous generations because of different challenges with student loans and job opportunities.
Cooper McGee, a senior multimedia journalism major at the University of South Carolina, has noticed generational differences when it comes to money.
“We’re against the grain when it comes to managing our money,” said McGee, who was attending the conference. “I think the advice they give is still really relevant to all generations, but we’re a lot more independent. We’d rather look into it ourselves than take advice from financial planners.”
McGee is working on an article about personal finance at USC, and said his advice probably will be different than what the panelists write for their audiences. He and the panelists agreed that personal finance writers need expertise in the topic.
Beth Pinsker, a Reuters journalist, is also a certified financial planner, which she said helps in her coverage of personal finance. The other panelists said reporting on this topic is experiential journalism, and it’s helpful for journalists to put into practice the same advice they’re giving their audiences.
But the differences among generations also affects the way in which the content needs to be presented to reach certain audiences.
The finance reporters on the panel said some of their most-read articles have specific, digital-geared formats. Colarusso pointed to listicles as an example.
Laurryn Thomas, a USC senior multimedia journalism also attending the conference, said these are the types of articles she usually reads.
McGee said he and other college students look for information about personal finances via the internet, but they shop for information instead of going to a specific financial planner or writer.
Everything with personal finances “depends,” Pinsker said, so seeing an array of different ideas may help the consumer make better decisions. However, there’s also a chance unqualified people are writing finance news, so the consumer has to be careful who they trust.
The panelists said personal finance reporting should always be about storytelling no matter changes in audience or medium. They also said journalists should strive to make money advice accessible to a diverse crowd.
“Personal finance is getting more personal,” Colarusso said. “It’s evolving before us, and that lends itself to storytelling.”
Erin Schilling is a journalism major in the Grady College of Journalism and Mass Communication at the University of Georgia.