Research Exposes Anti-Bitcoin Bias in Mainstream Media
Recent research on the tone and frequency of cryptocurrency coverage in the mainstream media over the past five years suggests that some news outlets appear to be much more biased against Bitcoin than the norm. The results also indicate that overall sentiment has become more negative with time.
Price Declines Sparked a Press Frenzy
Blockchain-focused research company Clovr surveyed 7,527 cryptocurrency-related articles from 48 media outlets from January 1, 2013, to July 31, 2018. It used an algorithm to assess the broad sentiment expressed in each article.
The researchers found that the mainstream media didn’t really pay much attention to cryptocurrencies until they started climbing in value. But what these news outlets really liked was to report about price crashes. Even during the great bull run of 2017, coverage spiked during sudden declines in market value. And the downturn from the peak at the end of the year created a “press frenzy” as the number of articles shot up.
“In the wake of bitcoin’s market cap plunge in the final days of 2017, negative articles multiplied — with cryptocurrencies falling 34 percent in the first month of 2018, cautionary tales of vanished wealth were common,” the researchers note.
Old vs. Young, Left vs. Right
Long-established mainstream brands were particularly harsh with their cryptocurrency coverage, including The Wall Street Journal, The New York Times, The Economist and The Financial Times. In contrast, the researchers found that business and financial news outlets that skew toward a younger audience, such as Forbes and Business Insider, had coverage that was consistently above the overall median for positive sentiment.
Comparing American publications by their political leanings, the researchers found that those that skew conservative were considerably more negative in their crypto coverage than those that skew liberal. This was exemplified by Breitbart News, which was found to have published only negative articles — a surprising finding, considering that its former executive chairman, Steve Bannon, has gone on to present himself as a crypto revolutionary.
The report indicates that some publishers became less hostile over time. However, the more common trajectory was for coverage to become increasingly negative, the researchers noted. The average sentiment of Reuters, USA Today and Gizmodo articles became substantially more negative over time, for example. And overall, financial news outlets seemed to be more positive than technology news sites.