How the Media Sells Fear and Outrage for Profit

This Is How Your Fear and Outrage Are Being Sold for Profit

This is the reason many of the news stories you see today lead with over-the-top, dramatic, attention-grabbing statements — they are trying to engage with you and rise above the competition. This is the ‘inside baseball’ of the news industry. They’ve been losing the battle for attention, and they have become desperate.

The knowledge of how to reliably hijack the human brain for attention is one of the most significant new trends of the 21st century. This discovery, like every large-scale invention in our history, has unexpected outcomes that are difficult to predict.

This is one of those articles I wish I had written. From the 2014 post Ignore the News:

The takeaway is that 99% of the time what is supposed to be a big deal is just a speedbump. Our attention is valuable. The media, especially the click-bait dominated world of online media, should take heed that if they keep crying wolf over minutia, they may lose readers that have become frustrated over the deadend stories and promises of scandal and crisis that never come to fruition. Like in poker, if you got a good hand or a ‘substantive lead’, play it. If not, keep the cards to yourself and ‘fold’ if necessary. The media is playing every hand, however bad, and in the process dwindling its bankroll of trust among its readers. Still, many seek the news for the the dopamine rush it provides – in anticipation that one day, the headline that they seek that will right the wrongs of the world and fill the missing pieces of their lives will come. It never does.

My rule of thumb is that 95-99% of the time what is supposed to be crisis, is just noise. All that hype over Trump Jr. emails, for example, was noise. Or the hype over Ebola. Or the failed predictions about how Brexit and Trump would hurt the economy and stock market. Or the failed predictions in 2010-2014 of hyperinflation and dollar collapse. Or about the fake college rape epidemic (that turned out to be a bunch of hoaxes and false memories than actual rape, but the media never apologized for the innocent lives it permanently damaged). And many other examples.

Why the News Is Still Mostly Pointless

Following the news can be perilous to your financial health. Had you sold your stocks in 2008, at the depths of the crisis when the media had nearly everyone convinced capitalism and America was doomed, you would have not only sold at the bottom but missed out on the 2nd-greatest bull market ever – a bull market which continues to this day. The S&P 500 is up 80% (including dividends) since 2005, despite the crisis. Had you sold your stocks following the Brexit vote, you would have sold at the bottom and missed the 4% rally that immediately followed. Had you listened to the media and sold stocks in 2013 on fears of QE ending, you would have missed out an additional 25% gains in the S&P 500. Other examples include numerous predictions since 2008 of hyperinflation and dollar collapse, neither of which happened.

This article was written a year ago…so make that a 100% gain for the S&P 500 since 2005 and a 12% gain since Trump won. OF course some say the stock market is not the economy, and obviously it isn’t, but has you heeded the likes of Zerohedge and others who said to sell, you would have missed out on some huge gains.

The media wants you scared and angry. The media wants you to take action, even if it’s against your own best interests (such as selling your stocks after Trump won). Their business model is to turn outrage and fear into ad clicks and page views. The media demands your compliance and attention, for without it, it dies.