This paper looks at the interplay of communication modes from an ethnographic perspective by presenting a case study which documents the role of news consumption in news writing. Our data are drawn from fieldwork at the home office of a freelance financial journalist who covers the stock markets for a quality daily newspaper in Belgium. He writes feature articles, op-ed pieces and, of interest here, newspaper fillers known as buy/sell advice. These short, personal finance articles provide investor advice on which shares to buy or sell (and why). Crucially, our data show how the journalist manages to conceal his authorial presence, thereby effectively displacing responsibility for assertions made (‘sell these shares’) onto the financial analysts he quotes or sources. We conclude that this form of passive news production relies wholly on the journalist’s available desktop sources, i.e. the financial newsletters to which he subscribes.