A grade 3 back and sides and a trim on top

That’s what I ask for when I go to get my haircut – next one is due on Friday as it happens. Lee, who cuts my hair, understands what I mean by a “trim”. I don’t walk out looking like I’ve just been scalped – I have little enough hair as it is :)

With all the excitement yesterday over Lehman Brothers, the announcement that China was reducing interest rates got a little lost in the mix. The announcement was significant though as it represents China’s first cut in interest rates in 6 years. The cut was 0.27% from 7.47% to 7.20%; however two pieces of media coverage described this change in very different ways. The BBC described the change as a “trim“; however The Times view was that China had “slashed” rates. Now I don’t know about you, but if my bank told me that my mortgage interest payment had fallen by 3.6% (0.27%/7.47%) I wouldn’t really consider it had been slashed.

The serious point here is that in my experience the language that is used in reporting economic and financial matters can sometimes suffer from a lack of consistency. Share prices “plummet“ when the fall is a little over 1%, house prices “crash“ when they fall 2%, but oil prices only “fall“ when they reduce by 5%.

The lesson this has taught me though is if I ever need to get a haircut anywhere else I need to check first if the person about to cut my hair ever reads The Times!

2 thoughts on “A grade 3 back and sides and a trim on top

  1. fair point…but let me ask you this (at the risk of questioning generations of media coverage and therefore generations of research into what people actually want to read) would the financial crisis that we seem to be heading toward be actually made worse due to the the relentless media coverage?

    In terms of house prices which seems to be the most high profile, following the law of supply and demand, nothing affects house prices more than the number of people willing to buy or sell, so surely any news that reduces the number of people willing to buy is only going to fuel the aforementioned crisis in the media and make it worse. (chicken and egg situation here I know)

    Is there any point in talking about media coverage’s use of language that is over and above the the fact that it is generally negative and of no positive value?

    Is there is a happy medium between (generally negative but usually truthful) news and (generally positive but subjective) PR (from an informing POV not a crisis handling POV)

    wish I could have an italics button for the ‘truthful’ part of that last sentence about the news!

  2. Hi Fuzzee (is it ok to shorten this by the way?)

    I think there are a number of separate issues here.

    1.Reporting language
    2.Media coverage

    There are probably a load more as well…

    I agree with you that 2 and 3 have a potential for chicken and egg and also that media coverage can fuel particular behaviours that then become potentially self perpetuating. Would Northern Rock have collapsed if the media hadn’t been filled with images of queues implicitly asking viewers the question “why aren’t you here as well?”

    However my point about language was that at least when reporting what is happening the language should be consistent and not put more fuel to that fire.

    Oh and I obviously need to look into adding the functionality to allow addition of style :)

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