Semi-Daily Journal Archive

The Blogspot archive of the weblog of J. Bradford DeLong, Professor of Economics and Chair of the PEIS major at U.C. Berkeley, a Research Associate of the National Bureau of Economic Research, and former Deputy Assistant Secretary of the U.S. Treasury.

Wednesday, November 15, 2006

Hoisted From Comments: "If you'd posted my whole story... it would be apparrent the article addresses your point [in the] 12th & 13th [para]grafs

The intelligent Demian McLean writes in about his story on James Glassman, the story that began:

James Glassman says his seven-year- old prediction that the Dow Jones Industrial Average will rise to 36,000 wasn't wrong, just early. Two years after Glassman and co-author Kevin Hassett published their theory, the Dow average had sunk 29 percent..."

and a few paragraphs later continues:

The Dow has since recovered.... The surge has improved some portfolios and may eventually do the same for the reputations of the authors, who stand by their forecasts...

Demian McLean writes:

[Brad DeLong's Semi-Daily Journal: Fair and Balanced Almost Every Day: James Glassman and Kevin Hassett Rear Their Ugly Heads Yet Again

`Dow 36,000' optimists unbowed | Chicago Tribune

](http://delong.typepad.com/sdj/2006/10/jamesglassman.html): Pardon the irony, Brad, but you're quoting a journalist out of context. If you'd posted my whole story, instead of editing it with ellipses, it would be apparrent the article addresses your point:

12th & 13th grafs:

With a 2021 deadline, Glassman's prediction of 36,000 would require the Dow to grow by 7.6 percent annually. ``When you consider the market has historically doubled every seven to 10 years, that's not really going out on a limb,'' said Barry James, who oversees $1.8 billion as chief investment strategist at James Investment Research Inc. in Xenia, Ohio...

The personal attack on me is curious, considering I e-mailed you before the story's publication, hoping to include your voice as a critic. I never heard back.

I have to disagree.

Half the people who remember anything from a story remember only the headline. Of those who read beyond the headline, they focus on and remember what comes first. Because journalists typically write in "inverted pyramid" style, readers interpret placement of facts and factoids in the lead as a signal that they are the most important things. And what proportion of readers get to paragraph 13 at all?

Journalists mislead their readers when they put things that should appear in paragraph 1 in paragraph 13, just as editors mislead their readers when they put things on page A23 that should be on page A1

My view is that Demian McLean simply should not have written the article: it misinforms his readers.

If he were going to write the article, he should not have begun it with "James Glassman says his seven-year- old prediction that the Dow Jones Industrial Average will rise to 36,000 wasn't wrong, just early": that adds to the misinformation. And he definitely should not have written "The surge [in the stock market] has improved some portfolios and may eventually do the same for the reputations of the author [Glassman and Hassett], who stand by their forecasts..."

With moderate power--the power to send things out over the Bloomberg wire--comes the moderate responsibility to take care not to misinform your readers.

A much better lead--if he had to write the story--a lead that did not misinform--would have been:

James Glassman and Kevin Hassett predicted back in 1999 that the Dow would reach 36,000 "very quickly," "perhaps in three to five years." It didn't. Now Glassman is predicting that the Dow will reach 36,000 by 2021. Glassman's prediction of 36,000 would require the Dow to grow by 7.6 percent annually. "When you consider the market has historically doubled every seven to 10 years, that's not really going out on a limb," said Barry James, who oversees $1.8 billion as chief investment strategist at James Investment Research Inc. in Xenia, Ohio...

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