It Is Not The Great Depression

Not shocking.  A recent study conducted by the Business & Media Institute found that the media overhypes negative economic news and makes unwarranted comparisons of the current economy with the great depression. The study determined that this was in part the result of ignorance of economics and history and shallow "sound bite" reporting. Among the study's key findings:

  • Modern Media Much More Negative: During the week of the 1929 stock market crash, daily news stories reported positive news more often than negative by a 4-to-1 ratio. The week that the Bear Stearns fall occurred, coverage was the complete opposite. Negative stories on ABC, CBS and NBC outnumbered positive 6-to-1.
  • No Good News: Roughly 40 percent of the stories from 2008 contained no positive comments at all. On CBS, that percentage was even higher. Completely negative stories made up nearly 60 percent of its reports.
  • It’s Not A Depression: Today’s journalists are making repeated connections to the largest economic crisis in modern times – often with the phrase “not since the Great Depression.” Only a few of those comments explained the differences between today’s economy and the nation’s darkest economic years, or bothered to note that America is not in a depression.
  • Old Presidents Never Die…: The claim that President George W. Bush would be the first president since Hoover to lose jobs in his first term proved false, yet journalists repeated it more often than Democratic operatives. Journalists have been comparing Republicans to Hoover for several years and have already begun doing so with Sen. John McCain, the presumptive GOP presidential nominee.
  • CBS the Worst: CBS consistently appears among the worst media outlets on the economy. This study was no different. Business reporter Anthony Mason was even called “the grim reaper” by his own anchor Katie Couric. In 2008 during the week of the Bear Stearns collapse, negative stories on CBS outnumbered positive by an 11-to-1 ratio.
  • NBC the Best: NBC’s attempts to deliver balanced economic coverage can be summed up in two words – Maria Bartiromo. The star of sister network CNBC was a cautious voice reminding viewers that negative news can have an impact. “We could talk ourselves into a recession,” she told NBC’s “Today.”