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Bulls and Bear-ly There Coverage

I've said before that reading about the stock market can be like reading in a foreign language. All this talk about sub-prime mortgages and hedge funds is making me realize how uninformed the majority of my generation is when it comes to the basics of money. In my opinion, money management classes should be required in all high schools nowadays, and considering it will be my generation that will inherent the financial woes of today, information is needed more than ever.

Regardless of whatever hyperbolic statements I make about my own financial ignorance, it was with great pleasure that I was able to read The Washington Post's coverage of the current economic crisis this morning. The Post's article from today (Monday) serves as a figurative sampler platter to the multitude of issues centered around the government bailout. In two brief pages, the article offered a great deal of analysis concerning the after-shocks of the bailout, including today's tumbling stocks and increased gas prices. Going deeper than that, the article fleshes out the details of the buyout and also considers how various plans will fare when they face senate and congressional hearings. I suppose what was the most enlightening about reading this was how well it blended reality with a tiny bit of optimism. A lot of what I've read so far on the crisis has either been soul-crushingly grim or else naively rah-rah. This individual article makes us aware that hope could emerge from this for long term investments, but also reminds us to not get swept up in any of the euphoric chatter that was everywhere last week after the DOW went up for a few days. Biases aren't easily spotted, as it does pay mind to mention both Democratic and Republican opinions and plans, while also getting sources whose credentials imply elevated knowledge. The Washington Post, which has long been my favorite of the big country-spanning newspapers, always has catered towards more erudite crowds, so it comes as no surprise that their coverage refuses to dumb down or politicize the subject at hand. You can view the article here...http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2008/09/22/AR2008092201106.html?hpid=topnews

The New York Time's coverage of the crisis is equally well-written and informative, however it does have the slight advantage of being a bit more wordy and unapproachable. I'm not one for simplifying news, but as I've made it aware, money is the Achilles heel of my news understanding. Reading statements like the following is enough to make me panic, sweat and have to re-read sentences like 40 times...
"The contingent shares would give taxpayers an equity stake in companies seeking help through the rescue program, potentially allowing the government not only to recoup however much of the $700 billion it spends on bad debt, but also to profit should the financial firms prosper in years ahead. The legislation would require the value of the contingent shares to equal the value of the assets purchased by the government."
Yikes. Still, despite being a tad overwhelming, The Times' coverage is as in-depth as The Post's, albeit a tad more straight-forward than the Post's which included a lot of different aspects of the story and a bit more analysis of the various plans. The Times does include a lot of quotes from those involved or with knowledge that makes the all around reading experience a bit more fluent and flowing. And despite however many Jayson Blairs you can throw at me, I still view the New York Times as a trusted source because my experience reading Vanity Fair has taught me to listen to those who think they're better than me. They're known for having a liberal bias, but I honestly didn't spot much of one here. The article was about criticism of the buy-out and it looked at it from both perspectives (assuming there are only two. We're pretty acclimated to a two-party system here). And since I don't quite get how to work this site yet, here is a link to the article that you'll have to copy and paste

http://www.nytimes.com/2008/09/23/business/23paulson.html?pagewanted=1&_r=1&hp

Finally, like everyone who is looking for bias in a news article, I headed on over to Fox News' website in the hopes of finding something unapologetic in it's one sided brazenness. Despite my expectations, I was still beside myself when I saw the headline for an article on the very same subject..."Dems Tack on Extras." From that headline you really don't even know what the subject is about. All we get is that those no good Democrats are adding on costs like they (ed: we) always do. Early on the article was big on sensationalism, eager to shock with comparisons to The Great Depression that are all rooted back to liberal spending. There is a surprising amount of content for a news site that loves to work with nothing but sound bites, however, most of the content is rushed and spun in a way that doesn't reflect anything the other two sources had. Congress and Pelosi are painted as incompetent and harsh language like "demanded" is used with Democratic subjects. The bias is quite clear, here more evident than usual, and unsurprising considering the reputation the network has. The amount of coverage on this site is much less than the other two as well. Election coverage (much more flashy) gets the majority of the home page space. The other two site's main stories were all on the economic crises (about two-three stories each), but Fox was too busy giving space to an anti-Obama book called "The Audacity of Deceit." My opinion, however biased IT may be, is that Fox has less on the situation because the subject is much more complicated to comprehend than most news stories and its content doesn't translate to quick news blurbs as well as the latest presidential polls do.
Read it at this site: http://www.foxnews.com/story/0,2933,426160,00.html

Overall, I liked The Washington Post's coverage the best because it had the most information and presented it in a way which did not dumb down the issue.