Fairfax: Give it to me straight

Articles including opinions on companies, or statistics usually come with a disclosure. Gareth Brown discusses a recent Fairfax article and how this seems to have ignored this point....

One of my hobbies is calling bs on companies and journalists committing statistical buggery for their own benefit—see Private Equity Floats—Duds and You Know It and Statistical buggery—realestate.com.au edition, for example.

Well, today's Sydney Morning Herald article ‘With Powerball jackpot at $50m pick the best suburb to buy your ticket’ is so many kinds of stupid, I just can’t be bothered. Did 'journalist' Tom Decent skip maths class from year 5 onwards? Or is there a bias at work that encourages him and his editors to publish such feculence? You be the judge.

Full disclosure

For more than ten years as an analyst at Intelligent Investor, every one of my articles came with a disclosure outlining whether I owned shares in the company being reviewed. And the website listed the analytical team’s combined portfolio, down to the dollar.

Broker reports and any other opinion or advice piece from the financial world now tends to come with such a disclosure. One can't eliminate bias, but good disclosure alerts readers to its potential existence.

It’s time media everywhere followed suit.

Drivel like Decent’s article needs to leave a new, still-foul but more honest aftertaste:

Disclosure: In the year preceding today, Fairfax collected advertising revenue of $x from Powerball and Tatts.

Simple.

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