The SIC Report reveals that roughly 80% of news stories covering the three largest banks in the two years leading up to the crash were neutral rather than positive or negative. The newspapers deserve some applause for that. But, it’s sometimes said that even if the media doesn’t tell you what to think—it still tells you what to think about. If you buy this idea that the media determines which issues are important by covering some issues prominently and others not so prominently, then what good were these unbiased reports about the banks if they were few and far between?
If you look at this data, you see how many articles Fréttablaðið, Morgunblaðið and Viðskiptablaðið printed about financial institutions between January 2006 and August 2008. There are a few interesting points to note. One point is that the number of articles about financial institutions consistently drops in March and doesn’t pick up until after the summer. So, if you were a financial institution, and you were going to pull a fast one on the country, it would be wise to do it during the summer.
Perhaps the more seasoned journalists are on vacation and people are generally thinking about the weather and other more light-hearted stuff rather than business and heavy economics. Another point is that that even in the spring and summer before the crash, coverage largely declined and remained low. Shouldn’t we have seen a spike there?