Top, Coverage All Mixed Up
final trading day of 2006, the Dow Jones Industrial Averages surged to
an all-time high of 12,529.87. For those with bad vision, that’s an
who are Yahoo! headline writers, I regret that I cannot change font
sizes in my columns for the purpose of further emphasizing to you that
this is, yes, indeed, an ALL-TIME HIGH!
I, or someone, could have made this message clearer on Friday afternoon,
Yahoo! would not have headlined its story about the ALL-TIME HIGH
mixed in final 2006 trading day”
40, Texans 7; Both Teams Claim Victory”
How about this:
Says His 13 Electoral Votes Might Mean He Wins”
potato. I say potahto. Dan Quayle waits for the verdict from spellcheck.
Either way, some things are hard to misdefine. But that’s where
Herculean effort becomes so important.
course you realize, not all stocks are at an all-time high. Not all
stocks are even up. Some stocks are down. Thus, the market is mixed.
Some stocks are up and some stocks are down. Every day. That is an
enormously comforting thought to every financial headline writer in
journalism, who can simply stick the “Stocks Mixed” headline on every
single day’s report and know beyond a shadow of a doubt that it will
always be accurate.
must acknowledge: Reporting on the stock market is inherently
problematic. Just because the entire market is at an all-time high
doesn’t mean that anyone’s individual portfolio is at an all-time high,
because no one owns every stock on the market. So right from the get-go,
a story about the entire market’s performance is inapplicable to any
individual investor, even if the headline isn’t preposterous.
course, we still haven’t answered the all-important question about those
12,529.87, er, well, that’s the question. What are they? We’re writing a
story about 12,529.87 somethings. Are they money? Are they drops of red
hair dye? Are they breath mints?
I buy with the 12,529.87 things, assuming of course that they all
belonged to me? Paying off the national debt might be a bit ambitious,
but would they be worth enough for me to, say, get some new frames for
my glasses? A few people said the old ones were getting some green gunk
on them. That is a little gross. But you can’t really see the green gunk
on your own glasses because they’re sitting in that invisible spot on
the crown of your nose.
that’s not the purchase for me after all.
am not the person to explain stock market definitions to the rest of the
world, although I am pretty sure that when something reaches its
all-time high I would not describe the outcome as “mixed.”
But since I
don’t know how I would write the story, since even an all-time high
carries a meaning of unclear importance to me, I propose that we simply
stop writing stories about the performance of the stock market
altogether. This being the start of a new year, it’s a perfect time to
end this specious journalistic practice and, instead, report on the
actual performance of actual companies.
this, of course, means that I will stop reading stock market
coverage. With Kirk Kerkorian no longer a factor at General Motors, the
stock market – and the entire world’s effort to pretend to understand it
– is now the best place I can go to get material for this column.
But I don’t
want any of the rest of you reading stock market news. It makes no
sense, it has nothing to do with your life and even when it’s accurate,
it’s wrong. Go buy a dog and leave this dirty reading to me. I’m sure
there are at least 12,529.87 better things you could be doing with your
feedback on this column,
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