Evan Davis: Journalists failed to warn public of worsening economy

Evan Davis, presenter of BBC Radio 4’s Today programme, has accused journalists of failing to give the public enough advance warning of the worsening conditions in the economy and the effect it would have on them.

In an interview at the Radio Festival in Glasgow, the former BBC economics editor said journalists had been too preoccupied with reporting rising house prices to notice the signs of a financial slowdown.

“I do ask whether we did our best to warn people of impending problems,” Davis said. “I don’t think we warned people sufficiently loudly or clearly.”

He added: “When everything is going well no one is interested in hearing it. Some of us suffered from giving the warnings a bit too early in the whole cycle. By about 2005 that warning was beginning to lose credibility.”

Davis said journalists had over-reported Britain’s booming economy, by repeating the news that house prices were rising every time new data was released.

“There was a period where we were aware that house price stories were interesting,” he said. “We get five measures of house prices [each month]. If you report every one of them, you give an inflated sense.”

He also accused journalists of using the term “credit crunch” incorrectly.

“The credit crunch is just a vehicle,” he said. “It’s not a cause, it’s just another symptom.”

Davis joined the presentation team on Radio 4’s Today programme in March on a one-year contract.

“I think it will be difficult to go back to the previous job,” he said. “There’s no going back.”

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