The Big Picture

Sensationalism sells; don’t let the facts get in the way of a good story.”  -Mark Twain

The summer of the shark occurred in 2001 after a bull shark attack on Santa Rosa Island near Pensacola Florida. Immediately following the attack the coverage on sharks and shark attacks continued nearly around the clock for the rest of the summer. As tragic as shark attacks are, were there any more shark attacks in 2001 than any other year?

“More people are killed each year by falling coconuts than by sharks.” – Chris Plante, Miami Seaquarium

There were 76 shark attacks in 2001. Nine less than in 2000. On average, there are 70 recorded shark attacks each year (ISAF). 2001 was not an extraordinary year for the number of shark attacks at all. That did not prevent the media from sensationalizing these incidents and likely terrifying a good portion of their viewers out of the water that summer! Reporting the news is no longer about reporting the news. The goal today is to gain viewers and keep them watching!

Have a Plan and a Process!

From the Trenches

Whoever controls the media controls the mind.” -Jim Morrison

In May of this year Melissa Lee of CNBC interviewed Steve Eisman of Neuberger Berman. Eisman became notable in the 2008 Financial Crisis for betting against subprime mortgages. He is portrayed in the movie “The Big Short” by Steve Carell. Lee wasted no time in trying to get some major revelation out of Eisman. The questions were all driven towards what possible calamity was on the horizon. Lions and tigers and bears… and SHARKS!

Lee pressed Eisman on several areas from the auto market, to banks, to student loan debt, and even the housing market. You could see the disappointment on Lee’s face as Eisman gave no revelation of disasters to come in the near term.

“There is no big short (today) in my view.” – Steve Eisman

I eventually found myself laughing during the interview at the pathetic attempt to strum something up. Scare tactics sell! It continued to get humorous when CNBC put the ominous “Bubbles Brewing” back-drop with asteroids falling to a fiery wasteland. The end of times!

This is not financial news! This is something else…

Bottom line: News media, in my humble opinion, has changed drastically. News is simply stating what happened. Today media is a mechanism to sensationalize any topic to keep viewers watching and generate ratings.  

The Weeds

“Some people say journalism is in decline. They say you’ve become too politicized, too focused on sensationalism. They say you no longer honor your duty to inform America, but instead actively try to divide us so that your corporate overlords can rake in the profits…” 

“I don’t have a joke for this, I’m just telling you what they say!”

-Jimmy Kimmel at the White House Correspondent’s Dinner in 2012

There is truth in jest…

Financial News

During the day when the market is open and stocks are going up, the financial media always wants to give you a reason: “stocks up on this…”. When stocks are going down;  “stocks down on this…”. Sometimes the reason they give for why stocks are down in the morning they have to quickly come up with another reason for why stocks have risen in the afternoon! This minute by minute play-calling isn’t helping anyone but them. You listen to one commentator and he says one thing while listening to another saying the opposite! “Buy stocks!” No wait a second, “Sell Stocks!” This is a show, these are opinions, it is madness.

The manic-media is not part of a well disciplined investment process.

Bottom Line: In order to keep you watching, they have to say something. Say anything! They have ad space to sell. It is hard to do that if they don’t have viewers.