OLD Media Moves

Media coverage of GDP data isn't good

February 1, 2006

NewsBusters, a web site devoted to exposing the liberal bias in media, has a nice analysis of how the media cover the Gross Domestic Product numbers when they come out every quarter. The GDP measures how the U.S. economy is growing, and it’s typically measured against estimates from economists.

Noel Sheppard, writing on NewsBusters, states, “Media coverage of the nation’s economic growth can vary a lot depending on how strong or weak the economy is doing. Strong numbers are downplayed or undermined and weak numbers like the fourth-quarter results are highlighted in some of the major media.”

The fourth-quarter GDP numbers were released last week. Sheppard called the New York Times’ coverage “gloomy” and the NBC News coverage “bearish.” The Washington Post was “downbeat” in its coverage. However, when the third-quarter numbers were released back at the end of October and showed stronger-than-expected growth, Sheppard said that the media didn’t give the story as much coverage.

Read his entire analysis here. I think he has a point, but I don’t know if it’s a problem. Economic growth slowing seems to be more important to people than when it’s humming along. It’s the change in the rate of economic growth that often determines whether the GDP is a big story, or how it’s played.

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