Even a casual glance at a few articles on the same subject on the Internet reveals the same layout and opinion, and the same spelling mistakes, and even worse you’ll find many articles that are identical except for the omission of the original author’s name, or its replacement with a different name.
This means that instead of doing research and writing something meaningful, that the so called author or journalist merely copied and pasted somebody else’s work.
The vast majority of articles are now short on facts too, and more often than not they simply express an opinion, and are the kind of piece that almost anybody can knock out in a few effortless minutes.
So Why Is That?
The basic reason would seem to be laziness, and it appears to be a global thing, and not just limited to America.
So What Happened To Investigative Journalism?
Investigative journalism is hard work, and it means getting out and talking to people, digging deep and writing very few articles, and a good investigative journalist might spend weeks or months writing an in depth article, and certainly can’t churn out a new one every day or week.
The Bad Debt Phenomenon Deserves Good Journalism.
Every journalist that’s at all worthy of his salt, must know that millions of Americans are drowning under debt, and a good investigative story into what might help them would not only be a top story, but would help a great number of people too.
The Debt Settlement Business.
When did you last read an article in which the journalist discussed talking to somebody in the debt settlement business?
What’s now extremely common, is for so called journalists to see a new release about debt settlement or any other subject, and liking the article, they’ll almost immediately republish it after making few if any changes.
I did personally take the trouble to contact, and then interview someone that has been in the debt settlement business for many years, and what follows is what he told me.
a) Is definitely not for everyone, but it’s generally right for people with more than ,000 in unsecured debt who have encountered some kind of hardship such as divorce, a job loss, or have suddenly encountered unexpected medical bills, any of which makes it impossible for them to honor their financial obligations.
b) Plays an important and legitimate role in helping these people slash their credit card debt, and get back in control of their lives.
c) Has steadily gained acceptance since 2005, when new laws made Chapter 7 bankruptcy much harder for many people to file.
d) Gets fewer Better Business Bureau complaints than a popular alternative, which is credit counseling, and it successfully resolves a higher percentage of them.
What About The Bad Companies?
I asked him to respond to recent articles that were highly critical of debt settlement, and offered him the chance to put forward some kind of defense, and he critiqued two recent and very widely circulated articles.
The first was a recent AP (Associated Press) article that was given nationwide coverage, which he said,
a) Was typical of the current run of articles, since it was incomplete, and only partially sourced.
b) Contained no quotes or comments by anyone in the debt settlement business.
c) Contained frequent quotes by an executive of the NFCC (National Foundation for Credit Counseling) and even provided a link to their website.
d) Contained no mention of The Association of Settlement Companies (TASC), which is the professional association for the debt settlement industry, and has several hundred member companies that are carefully scrutinized.
He added that the NFCC was established by banks and credit card companies and is supported by them, and asked, “would an organization that was founded and is supported by banking interests put its stamp of approval on a legitimate, and highly effective alternative approach to reducing credit card debt?”.
The second article he took to task was published in USA Today, and he gave it slightly higher marks.
The writer of the article did include the quote, “For some borrowers with large debts that can’t be repaid within three to five years, a reputable debt settlement company may offer an alternative to bankruptcy”, but the quote followed a remark which compared debt settlement to “weight-loss product that causes you to gain 10 pounds”.
The writer of the USA Today article also referred readers to debtadvice.org and the Website of the Association of Independent Consumer Credit Counseling Agencies, but again made no mention of TASC, and offered no link to its website.
What Should Good Debt Settlement Companies Do?
a) They should explain the advantages and disadvantages up front, stating plainly that debt settlement is not for everyone.
b) Keep the client involved and updated as to every debt settlement decision that needs to be made, and not decide for the client in which order debts should be settled.
c) Clearly explain what the costs will be, and collect their fees over a period of several months so the client doesn’t suddenly get hit with a big bill all at once.
a) It would seem clear from the interview, that debt settlement is only right for some people, and in certain situations.
b) That even if it’s the right choice, that the person considering debt settlement should only go with a reputable Debt Settlement Company that’s BBB (Better Business Bureau) recommended.
More and more journalists are losing their jobs because of the Internet, but many could still make a fine living, and a name for themselves if they got up off their butts and started working for a living.