Economic Uncertainty Through The Eyes Of Television & Online News

Feature Charticle

Economic uncertainty is a closely watched metric by economists. Scholars like Alexopoulos & Cohen and Baker, Bloom & Davis have constructed simple narrative indicators of economic uncertainty by looking for the keywords "economy/economic" and "uncertain/uncertainty" appearing together in news coverage as an indicator of press attention to an uncertain economic climate.

The timeline below shows this measure through the eyes of CNN, MSNBC and Fox News from June 2009 through present, measuring the monthly percentage of airtime mentioning the two terms together. Uncertainty mentions soared in the aftermath of the 2008/2009 economic collapse, but thus far this year have remained far more muted.

View Live Graph.

GDELT Project

In contrast, the timeline below shows the same timeline for business television news channels Bloomberg, CNBC and Fox Business. (Note that the Internet Archive's monitoring of these three stations doesn't begin until January 2014 for the three, so the timeline below begins in Jan. 2014). Here we can see a rapid rise over the 2020 pandemic, though its unclear how this might compare with how business channels covered the 2008/2009 collapse.

View Live Graph.

GDELT Project

Finally, the timeline below shows worldwide online news coverage since Jan. 2017 in the 65 languages monitored by the GDELT Project. Here coverage of economic uncertainty soars from late Feb. and begins collapsing as the George Floyd protests take off, steadily declining day over day in the weeks since, showing the extent to which the protests refocused media attention away from the topics they were covering earlier in the pandemic.

View Live Graph.

GDELT Project