5 trending money topics to tackle

May 17, 2019 11:00

Sponsored by NEFE

Five stories making news in the last few weeks are worth localizing for your news audiences. Here are some ideas:

Tariffs
Tariffs on several types of imported goods have been going up. The latest news is that tariffs on many goods from China are up, with more tariffs potentially coming. How much does the average person know about tariffs? Probably not much, but they do affect all consumers. So what are tariffs and what do they mean to the average person? It’s worth exploring how world news affects people and businesses in your community.

Free tax filing
The “Free File Alliance” of private online tax filing services agreed with the IRS to offer no-cost online income tax return filing for qualified filers. But it turns out those services are not always free. Each participating company sets different requirements to be eligible and many actively discourage filers from accessing the free services, instead gaming search engine results and pushing upsells to paid products. So what can someone do if they believe they should have been able to file for free, but were directed to a paid service? What are some alternate sources of tax filing help?

Medical bills
Healthcare costs are on the rise, and medical billing is an opaque and confusing process. Take a look at an example from KUSA, which crowdsourced emergency room bills and found ways to save an enormous amount of money for viewers. Now, new rules could make prescription drug prices more transparent when advertised on TV. What healthcare costs are most affecting your audience? Who is working on helping people understand the costs of insurance, ER visits and medications? What policies are affecting what information about healthcare costs is available and how to find it?        
  
One-ring scam
Your phone rings. You go to answer, but the person has hung up after only one ring. You call back, not wanting to miss any important news. At the end of the month, your phone bill has skyrocketed. What happened? Federal telecoms regulators are warning about the “one-ring scam” that tricks people into placing expensive 900-number or international calls. How can people better know which calls are legitimate and should be returned? What can people do if unexpected charges appear on their phone bill?

Rising debt
Household debt is now higher than it was at the peak of the 2008 recession, hitting an all-time high, according to the latest data from the Quarterly Report on Household Debt and Credit. Student loan debt, mortgages and car loans accounted for the bulk of the increase during the 19th straight quarter of debt growth.

Some student debt stories to think about:
 
Enter your consumer finance stories for the RTDNA/NEFE Personal Finance Reporting Awards

Three winners  – representing digital, radio and TV news – will each receive:
  • A $1,000 prize
  • Complimentary registration to the Excellence in Journalism 2019 conference in San Antonio
  • Travel and hotel expenses
  • The opportunity to present your winning work at a conference session
Entries are due July 18.
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