Media Adding Fuel To The “Panic” Fire

Is it just me, or does it seem like the media is playing a large part in the widespread financial panic that has consumed the globe?

I know the media is in the business of selling “papers” but still I wonder why they always seem to play up the negative? This only serves to feed the panic and thus make an already irrational market further disconnect from the fundamentals.

Is there any time when they should consider playing up some of the positive stuff, like companies that continue paying dividends, increasing liquidity, interbank credit easing etc. instead of feeding the panic.

Is A Balanced Representation Too Much To Ask?

I am not suggesting for a moment that they hide the truth. However, all we are really getting is an opinion and interpretation on what is happening – but does anyone really know what is happening?

The average person on the street panic and because of the sensationalism of the situation portrayed by the media, cannot differentiate between opinion and facts. The average Joe may panic and liquidate his 401k and not even really know why he is selling, other than the fact that the media is bombarding him with messages of companies going bankrupt and people losing their life savings etc.

Worse yet, a study found that increased suicides and homicides are linked to the financial “crisis”.

An out-of-work money manager in California loses a fortune and wipes out his family in a murder-suicide. A 90-year-old Ohio widow shoots herself in the chest as authorities arrive to evict her from the modest house she called home for 38 years.

In Massachusetts, a housewife who had hidden her family’s mounting financial crisis from her husband sends a note to the mortgage company warning: “By the time you foreclose on my house, I’ll be dead.”

Then Carlene Balderrama shot herself to death, leaving an insurance policy and a suicide note on a table.

I certainly don’t have all of the answers, if any at all, to these issues.  However, I am becoming very disheartened with the mainstream media as they continue down a path that leads to more destruction that good.  The above shows the outcome ofpeople feeling hopeless about their situation, financial or otherwise. Media outlets fuelling such hopelessness certainly doesn’t help.

Front page headlines do not necessarily need to be filled with hope, but I believe the media owes the public the opportunity to receive sound and relevant news about the state of the economy and their personal finances. 

What Would It Take?

What would it take for the major media outlets to band together for the greater good of our global society and present quality information that would help to instill the appropriate (read: more rational) level of confidence in our monetary system(s)?

I know that much of the turmoil in the financial markets is real. However, for media outlets to portray this as the “financial apocalypse” is absurd, and in my opinion, unethical.  Yes, there is cause for concern about the economy and the financial markets, but the infusion of undue fear on to the public is shameful. 

At a time when media sources could be encouraging us to learn more about our economy and educate ourselves on personal finance, credit, and investing, they choose instead to churn out headline after headline proclaiming the next depression and the longest deepest recession in history etc.

 One must wonder if there will ever be something bigger at stake than selling papers?

6 comments

  1. The appropriate and rational level of confidence in our monetary system is almost zero. Paulson is putting the entire balance sheet of the federal government at risk to prop up massively insolvent banks.

    At Greenspan’s Body Count, we are tracking suicides and murders related to the mortgage and financial crisis. We are at 59, and many occurred before the recent prominence of crisis stories in the media.

  2. Fear sells and that’s why we hear about it 24/7. It would be great to do something about it and put a more positive spin on things, but ratings would decrease and advertising revenues would drop.

  3. > “Is A Balanced Representation Too Much To Ask?”

    Yes! The media are not independent truth seekers. They have no interest in educating, informing or enlightening. News is a business like any other, and in their market fear sells. More panic and uncertainty they can induce and perpetuate, the more their readership/viewership improves and the more advertising they can sell. It is, sadly, that simple.

  4. You are absolutely right, I’ve been saying the same thing myself. I think it would be a great idea if people flodded the phone lines and emails to these so called financial “talking heads” and told them that they should be more responsible and infuse some optimisim in there reporting of the financial crisis and be more selective in the wording they use (including the President of the United States and other goverment officials). I’m sick and tired of all the “end of the world” banter. As Warren Buffet says…”Buy American and buy on fear”

    Of course, you know that fear sells and that’s why people will stay glued to the TV watching MSNBC, CNN and others that report the crisis.

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