Columns and Commentary

Why stock market stories aren’t important to most Americans

June 1, 2022

Posted by Chris Roush

Quinnipiac University School of Communications dean Chris Roush writes on about the overimportance of stock market stories in business media.

Roush writes, “Stock market coverage is the classic story that shows the current problem with business journalism. It’s content for only those with the financial means to invest and to spend on business news content.

“Slightly more than half of Americans — 55% — own stocks, according to an April 2020 poll by Gallup, down from 67% in 2002. And according to the Federal Reserve, just 14% of American families have a direct investment in individual stocks, meaning most people invested in the market are doing so through a mutual fund or retirement account.

“And stock ownership rises based on how much money someone makes — the top 10% on the income scale own stocks about 90% of the time.

“During the 2020 pandemic, when many households lost income and wealth, it was upper-income consumers — and white households — who benefited the most by the 16.3% rise during the year of the S&P 500 Index, a common barometer of stock market performance. Fifty-seven percent of white households own stocks, compared to 30% for Black households and 14% for Hispanic households.

“Jack Murtha notes in the Columbia Journalism Review: ‘Most Americans don’t deal with stocks intimately enough to warrant a constant eye on financial news, just as most people don’t need to check their 401(k) every day.'”

Read more here. This is an excerpt from “The Future of Business Journalism.”

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