I spoke to a group recently and got this simple question: How do you know if a news article is “valuable.”

It’s a deceptively simple, but excellent question.

Obviously, corporate news that moves markets is valuable. And obviously, huge political news can be important. But those are relatively rare events. Most “breaking” news isn’t market moving.

A good litmus test I use is the PHONE TEST.

Here is how it goes: Is it likely or even possible to share the article via email or phone?

So many financial professionals spend their days alerting people to events. Sales traders tell their portfolio managers. Portfolio managers tell their CIOs. CIOs tell the CEO. And on and on.

So while you may enjoy reading any number of articles, relatively few merit sharing. To share, it has to be something that would interest the other person. In a professional setting it also needs to be actionable.

Think of sharing articles as a kind of currency that people use to build relationships.

If someone sends an article via email the recipient mentally awards the sender points based on the utility of the information.

People are usually open to getting a call if the story is incredibly important, relevant or interesting.

But you only get credit if its “valuable” and you are first. If you are No. 2, you get no points. If you come in third or fourth, you begin to accrue negative points for being so cluelessly late to the party.

On the Bloomberg Terminal you can see the most shared articles by running {READ <go>} and toggling the Sort option to Most Emailed. Today, that list was topped by articles about taxes, Evergrande, Deutsche Bank and inflation.