Finally, my suspicions are confirmed . . .
As I enter my 28th year of advising clients (which is crazy to think that equates to over half my life) and for which I’ve spent the greater part of the last 15 years writing commentaries for clients, that my suspicions about the mainstream media has finally been proven correct.
I’ve always known it, and have incessantly pontificated on it in my commentaries over the years. While, I saw no statistical evidence of it, I’ve long suggested to my loyal readers that the media is inherently in the business of making headlines designed to invoke fear into its readers in order to drive their narrative and keep you clicking through to their primary source of revenue: advertisers. Objectivity takes a backseat to collecting revenue. Like, love it or hate it, this is the way.
I finally saw the statistical evidence of what I had long suspected in a paper recently published entitled: WHY IS ALL COVID-19 NEW BAD NEWS? By Bruce Sacerdote, Ranjan Sehgal, and Molly Cook.
This paper was put out by the National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER), whose functions include calculating the “official” onset and end of recessions, that in itself should preclude anyone from thinking that I’m cherry picking from partisan propaganda. The paper goes into great detail as to how their results were achieved. The authors non-biased, non-partisan approach, I found to be rather refreshing.
Let me simply summarize the paper for you: They analyzed the tone of COVID -19 related English language news and determined that the coverage is OVERWELMINGLY negative going back to January of 2020. Most striking is that the authors found out that 91 percent of the U.S. stories are negative whereas only 54 percent of the non-U.S. stories are negative. Furthermore, the debate to open U.S. schools show a HUGE disconnect between narrative and science, and that the media reports on opening schools remain overwhelmingly negative (the authors use the word “overwhelmingly” SEVERAL times throughout the paper). Infection rates among students remains low (0.14%) and schools have NOT become the super-spreaders many feared. Even in the face of positive news regarding the scientific findings of opening schools, the media has blatantly disregarded positive news and in some cases they have actually spread fear and misconceptions about reopening schools. The proportion of U.S. adults who exhibit depression symptoms has risen threefold since the start of the novel coronavirus pandemic. U.S. major media stories discussing the benefits of social distancing and the benefits of mask wearing are significantly less than stories about President Trump not wearing a mask. Media negativity is unresponsive to changing trends in new COVID-19 cases or the political leanings of the audience. U.S. major media readers strongly prefer negative stories about COVID-19, and negative stories in general. Stories of increasing COVID-19 cases outnumber stories of decreasing cases by a factor of 5.5 even during periods when new cases are declining. The authors conclude that the CDC’s implicit “warning label” against consuming too much U.S. COVID-19 media may be warranted.
All of this adds up to some damning evidence that is contrary to the media claims of reporting only the facts, while steering clear of narrative. What’s obvious to me and to anyone who reads this paper is that the mainstream medias’ negativity is indeed prevalent throughout their reporting.
While the paper only reviews and studies the COVID-19 pandemic, I can hypothesize, as I have been for years, that the media coverage, regardless of topic, is overwhelmingly negative.
After all negative headlines work, and advertisers are eager to pay for your butt sitting in front of a screen where they have your attention all to themselves. The mainstream media are all too eager to provide the fear to keep you clicking through.
While I don’t begrudge the media for doing what they do, after all, it is a business that hires thousands of employees across the globe that keeps its readers up to date on important news, rather, I’m simply asking you NOT to mix the headlines with your investment policy – one has nothing to do with the other.
What DOES have everything to do with your investment policy is setting goals and expectations for your investments. Knowing and understanding HOW your investments will help you pursue your goals, will guide you through all those negative headlines that are designed to scare you rather than help you.