Words chosen matter

Over the last couple of days, financial news headlines from mainline sources, especially Marketwatch, CNBC, and their peers, have chosen headlines that I see with strong bias toward painting events more negative, more bearish – interest rates and economic data.

An example from today was the jobless numbers this morning. The data was below the aggregate estimate, but MarketWatch headline was: “Jobless claims inch up in mid-september” … a true statement, but the probable audience reaction for the headline tilts negative, rather than “the number was better than anticipated” which would have been more positive.

My point here is not to highlight an incorrect bias, but that we as readers have to carefully respond and look at the data ourselves – not just the headlines. They are deliberately chosen for a narrative by that source and their motivation will always be to sell more content – not really help us make better investment decisions.

I worked with a brillant strategy person not long ago – truly brillant – and in a meeting this phrase was spoken with everlasting impact: “You have failed to realize the power of the English language”. Words chosen by news outlets have a purpose and it just may not be the same as ours.

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