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Happiness and the stock market blogger
A few weeks ago, I wrote in this blog that all is not lost for trading reps or TRs and that even in dismal market conditions, TR numbers haven't really fallen that much. Together with a rise in CDP account openings and signs of life in the retail segment, despondent TRs should take heart, draw some encouragement and hope that there will be better days ahead.
I was told that some TRs were not happy with the tone of my blog posting, preferring instead that I focus on how badly their profession is suffering as if that would somehow improve their lot. What this goes to show is that you can never keep everyone happy - it's a "damned if you do, and damned if you don't'' position that we journalists often find ourselves in.
The first thing I should clarify is that it is not my role to keep TRs happy. Once, a long time ago I found myself in a similar position with regards to a critical article I wrote, when the object of my criticism informed me that my article had made them unhappy. To this I replied that I was not put on this earth to ensure their happiness since that would be a task for their friends, families, bosses and perhaps colleagues. My job is to try and be as objective as possible, and to write according to the dictates of my conscience. Sometimes this may require me to criticise the authorities, sometimes the dealing community, sometimes broking houses and sometimes the retail public.
If the happiness of everyone was of any concern to me, I would produce bland copy, filled with mainly motherhood statements of little value. In the case of the article referred to earlier, the aim was to adopt a "glass is half full'' stance; instead of constantly harping on the bad, I thought why not look at the good?
A year ago I broke a story about 1,225 TRs who signed a petition for change that was addressed to the Finance Minister and since I followed this up with several commentaries highlighting the plight of TRs, I thought maybe it was time to stop focusing on the negatives and instead give some publicity to the positives. After all. I had fought for the lunch break to be reinstated, for a fairer apportionment of brokerage fees to boost TR incomes and for TRs to bear less credit risk. I used to think contra was bad for the market but have come round to accept that if houses can manage the risks, then so be it. So to balance out the TR position, I thought I'd take a step back and look at the bigger picture to see if there was anything worth writing about from the other side of the argument. The answer was yes, there was and so it was duly featured - only to be met with complaints.
People will claim they want newspapers to give them objective, fair views but when self-interest enters the picture, objectivity flies out the window. Try as one might, it simply isn't possible to satisfy everyone - and that is a lesson which I think all journalists should bear in mind.