Financial Literacy & the Role of the News & Media Industry.

“Yes these are real credit cards that real people left here.” (Credit Drinker’s pub in Philadelphia)

Here are a few awakening statistics… 👀

  • Nearly 3/4 workers said they are in debt, and more than half think they always will be according to a 2017 CareerBuilder Survey. This makes sense as to why 63% of young Americans ages 18–34 have high levels of financial stress, which very likely increased during the COVID pandemic (2018 FINRA study).
  • 3/5 adults do not have a budget according to a 2019 survey. Monthly budgets are fundamental for monitoring spending and paying off debt.
  • In 2021, the total student loan debt reached a high of $1.73 trillion, a 91% increase in the past decade. Additionally, credit card debt in the U.S. is at a record high of $1 trillion, meaning that many Americans deal with high interest rates and late fees that can lead to vicious cycles of debt. These are some symptoms of the growing, doubling wealth gap between the richest and poorest families during the past 30 years.

The bottom line is that America & the world struggles with financial literacy, & I want to help!

In my career, I am an Associate Product Manager in News, Data & Media focused on enhancing our audiences’ digital experiences with our trusted content, as well as empowering them to make important decisions in their lives. I am also a volunteer at the nonprofit FinMango dedicated to rethinking impact for financial literacy and inclusion for youth and around the globe. I’m so thankful to be so excited and passionate about what I do!

Check out FinMango and what we do here!

Due to the intersection of finance-related content and news, journalism, & media (hence the need for readers to be more financially literate to better understand and apply such content to their lives), I’m diving deeper to help make a positive impact as a developing leader and product manager in these intersecting spaces. I’m especially interested in investment education for youth and helping marginalized communities.

Key players: Business-focused news & media in the United States.

In addition to being publications that enable readers to watch the markets and read global news, business news, etc., these key players incorporate content that helps support efforts around financial literacy. For instance, CNBC has a newsletter in partnership with Acorns called Money 101, WSJ has a 5-Week Investing Challenge, Barron’s has an intro How to Invest email series, and the Morning Brew has the Money Scoop newsletter, just to name a few.

Additionally, many companies such as the NY Times, WSJ, and Business Insider are working on providing and better surfacing evergreen content and “how-to” guides about managing personal finance while providing attractive student subscription offerings.

WSJ Money Section

However, despite making strides to engage and attract new audiences by focusing on financial literacy and other topics of interest, many of these companies face challenges and barriers to subscriber growth for young audiences (ages 18–40), individuals from lower income communities, and women due to factors such as cost to subscribe, political skewness, news literacy, or not believing the publication is “for them” due to brand perception. The future of each company may depend on how each addresses these challenges. With these barriers in mind, can the news and media ever play a role in helping to close the wealth gap (big question I wonder)?

How other for-profit and non-profit companies aim to improve financial education.

Most financial services company websites have some sort of learning or education tab! For example, Charles Schwab, Robinhood, Coinbase (for Cryptocurrency), and many more strive to improve financial literacy among potential and current customers while using financial education as a marketing tool. Many of these players put their own unique spin on it to make financial education “more cool 😎.” For example, Step (mobile banking for teens) markets heavily on social media and took advantage of TikTok’s growth among Gen Zers, being promoted by influencers such as Charli D’Amelio. Chime and rapper 21 Savage are also teaming up to spread financial literacy.

Charli D’Amelio, TikTok’s most-followed content creator, invested in Step as her first startup investment. This Visa card allows teens ages 13–19 establish credit early and combat student loans.

Even though the financial services industry largely funds the financial education industry, nonprofit organizations such as FinMango, Next Gen Personal Finance, and Jump$tart have a mission to advance financial education for youth and make it accessible and useful. Additionally, for-profit companies such as Finny and David Ramsey Solutions help individuals learn, apply their knowledge, join a community, and/or get out of debt.

What’s Next?

I just touched on a lot here but hope my writing provided a meaningful high-level on Financial Literacy & the Role that the News & Media Industry as well as other types of companies play in it.

Next, I will explore a specific company working to enhance financial literacy and inclusion efforts with high impact. Stay tuned, and thank you for reading! :)

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20-something Associate Product Manager from Philly @ WSJ, Barron’s. Writing about what I’m learning! •Tech, Media, Financial Literacy, Self Development, Health•

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Katherine Lordi

Katherine Lordi

20-something Associate Product Manager from Philly @ WSJ, Barron’s. Writing about what I’m learning! •Tech, Media, Financial Literacy, Self Development, Health•

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