Tuesday, December 15, 2009

The media’s reporting on retail sales, ideology first

Every year news consumers are bombarded with stories about dismal retail sales forecast but this year, it seems the news isn’t so gloomy, in fact on Tampa Bay’s local news this morning, there were stories about retailers and shoppers getting ready for their holiday shopping and the overall coverage strongly slanted toward a strong forecast of strong sales numbers from Black Friday foward; a Google search of “retail sales” found a quite different tone, and here’s the search results of two previous years:

Hot October Stops Retail Sales Cold

Washington Post - Nov 9, 2007

Retail sales post weak gains in October

msnbc.com - Nov 14, 2007

US Retail Sales in October Trail Analyst Estimates

Bloomberg - Nov 8, 2007

Retail sales fall by record amount in October

FOXNews - Nov 14, 2008

US Oct retail sales disappoint as shoppers pull back

Forbes - Nov 6, 2008

Retail sales drop for first time in three years

Times Online - Nov 11, 2008

By contrast, when “retail sales” were Googled for this year, the headlines populated in the search results were decidedly different then the previous two years’ headlines:

US retail sales surge on autos, manufacturing slows

Forbes - Nov 16, 2009

US Retail sales slightly ahead of estimates

Reuters - Nov 5, 2009
By Nicole Maestri,
NEW YORK (Reuters) - US retail chains reported October sales slightly ahead of Wall Street expectations

Retail Sales Enjoy Best October In 7 Years

New York Times - Nov 9, 2009

Could it be the media is trying to mislead its viewers/readers? Hmmm; one wonders what’s different this year than in the previous two years (unemployment in those years were 5% in 2007 and 6.5% in 2008). Given the present economic circumstances, with U-3 unemployment at 10.0% and the U-6 currently at 17.5%, record foreclosures and personal bankruptcy filings, the weakening US dollar, one wonders how it might be that consumers are spending more.

There is a bias in the mainstream media and examples such as these prove so. Why else would newspaper circulation needed to be fluffed-up by new counting procedures (which allow newspapers to count both printed sales and electronic subscription sales, meaning they may count sales twice) and why else would blatantly left-of-center cable networks be losing so many viewers?

-- The Editors, Killswitch Politick

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