Tuned In

There Are Losses, and Then There Is Loss

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Deadline day, which means (1) I probably should be working on that, not this post and (2) I have cable news on in the background, on mute. All morning, CNN has been airing a picture-in-picture inset of the NYSE big board, focused on the numbers for the Dow Jones Industrial average (down about 250 points as I write). At the same time, it been running a “BREAKING NEWS” banner covering the deaths of several hundred in the earthquake in Peru.

Maybe this is a nitpick, but the juxtaposition seems a little crass, or at least unnecessary. Sure, the market is news, just as the Peru disaster is, but CNN–like every other news channel–has a bottom-of-the-screen graphic that already gives you the stock numbers. The picture-in-picture doesn’t add information. It just sends a visual message–“HOLY CRAP, THE MARKET IS TANKING!”–that seems all the more hyperbolic right next to the grimmer numbers, about losses that can’t be recovered by a turnaround in trading.

[Update: I left my desk for a while, and now MSNBC has added a big Watching the Dow graphic in its lower-right corner. Nice to know I have influence.]