“We can’t assist or save the age, but the attempt to do so is the only way we have of even coming close to realizing some dignity and meaning for our lives.”
In 1982, the US had finally broken away from a sixteen year funk and the greatest bull market and economic expansion in American history was just getting underway. That same year, a young reporter named Jason Zweig came out of Columbia University and began his journalistic career.
By 1986, he began researching and reporting on the economy for TIME Magazine. This would be followed by a legendary stint at Forbes culminating with him in the magazine’s senior editor role from 1992-1995. Then came the books – first an annotated edition of The Intelligent Investor (2003) in which the timeless lessons of Benjamin Graham are updated for the modern markets, then came Your Money and Your Brain (2007) , one of the most important books on behavioral investing ever written.
Jason Zweig stands head and shoulders above the profession given his relentless efforts to make people smarter about their investing through so many eras and environments. He doesn’t spend much time coming up with outrageous headlines for clicks, he doesn’t “make friends with the band” and tell you what brokerage firms and fund families want you to hear. He also doesn’t waste much time on politics, chasing the hot dot or the type of macroeconomic wanksmanship that’s grown so popular in recent years.
Instead, Jason Zweig does one thing extremely well – he actually helps the people who read his work.
He puts market trends and narratives into historical context, often with a sardonic gleam in his eye. He also has an ability to explain complex subjects with a great deal of clarity. If you read one of his Intelligent Investor columns (he’s just published No. 250!), you always come away more enlightened and armed with insights that can either help you make money or avoiding losing some.
It’s tempting to grow cynical when you continue to see the same patterns of investor abuse and self-inflicted wounds year after year. Or the same regulatory failings and preventable financial disasters cycle after cycle. But my friend Jason has somehow managed to stay in the fight and not abandon his hopes for a better market and a smarter investor class. When I told him about the premise of my book – protecting Main Street from the worst of Wall Street – he didn’t hesitate for a moment to provide writing advice, topical guidance and even some written contribution. A writer of his stature doesn’t go that far out of his way unless he truly believes in the mission.
This past week, Jason Zweig won his first Gerald Loeb Award for his recent body of work at the Wall Street Journal. He’d been nominated lots of times but had never won until now – he still calls himself Susan Lucci. He’s taken the occasion of his (long-overdue) victory to explain to readers what he tries to do with his writing and what keep him going each day…
I was once asked, at a journalism conference, how I defined my job. I said: My job is to write the exact same thing between 50 and 100 times a year in such a way that neither my editors nor my readers will ever think I am repeating myself.
That’s because good advice rarely changes, while markets change constantly. The temptation to pander is almost irresistible. And while people need good advice, what they want is advice that sounds good.
Congrats, my friend!