Let’s be honest, the number of folks who still read their favourite broadsheet over a morning coffee and croissant is dwindling. Most of us these days engage with our financial news on some sort of touchscreen device, with the content often suggested to us by applications and online news feeds.
That’s right. The tech revolution has caused a watershed shift in the way media is delivered and how we consume it. Rather than editorial teams setting the day’s agenda, it is algorithms. And people have mixed feelings about it.
Those who advocate for algorithmic curation say it avoids human prejudice in what gets screen time. The result however has often been that click bait and sensationalist headlines are preferenced over detailed financial analysis.
Now no one is arguing against some sort of filtration in the content we receive. There is simply too much news for any online platform to show us everything that is posted. But there are some questions regarding how this is managed, and how we as consumers can ensure we’re still reading a variety of opinions.
Tale as old as time?
Even in the golden age of print media, newspapers always had either progressive or conservative biases. We took this as a given. By the same token we also expected editorial oversight to ensure some level of impartiality in the topics discussed.
Social media on the other hand doesn’t have this oversight. The algorithms that choose what we see, reflect the views of our tribe.
Now it is news to no one that most of us surround ourselves with people who share our values, online and offline. Problems arise however when these people become our sole source of information thereby creating a bubble, meaning we are not exposed to opinions that differ from our own.
These bubbles can evolve into echo chambers which reject alternative opinions. When this happens, respectful dialogue can turn nasty. We’ve all witnessed comment threads turned sour.
Change on the horizon
The tech giants have been responsive to these issues recently. In 2018 Facebook made landmark shifts in the shape of its algorithm to promote ‘meaningful’ connections over branded content and to reduce the impact of sensationalist, clickbait articles.i
Similarly, Apple News, recognising that algorithms sometimes lack subtlety in their curation, put a team of journalists in charge of curating their feed.ii
A foundation of trust
The question at the centre of this changing media landscape is who we trust. Algorithms? Experts? Our friends and family? The pack mentality we sometimes see on social media has led to many analysts commenting on an erosion of trust in both public institutions and subject matter experts.
But on a practical level we still put our trust in experts every day. We go to a doctor for our ailments, and a mechanic to fix our car. Much like a newsfeed simply couldn’t fit all of the news on one wall, we simply can’t know everything. As a result, we rely on others as sources of truth, or experts in their fields, all the time.
Where to from here
It’s up to you to find an approach towards consuming media that works for you. That might mean subscribing to a variety of publications you trust and doing further research to find out the whole story.
It also means having a sounding board you have faith in. The state of media is noisier than ever and the finance sector is not immune. The volume of opinions we’re exposed to can be daunting for even the savviest of investors.
That’s why we’re here to help. It always makes sense to have an expert in your corner to cut through the clickbait and make sense of financial news as it relates to your individual circumstances, while also thinking big picture and taking into account the natural ebb and flow of markets.
The news changes daily but media has changed for good. If you need help making sense of any of it, talk to us. We’re always here to help.