Bad News Bearers: The Negative Tilt of the Financial Press
35 Pages Posted: 9 Aug 2018 Last revised: 4 Oct 2018
Date Written: September 2018
We show the financial press is more likely to cover firms with deteriorating performance. Our main tests illustrate the nature of the media's story selection process (i.e., what events to cover) and the usefulness of this selection process for forecasting firms' future earnings news and returns. We first show the media is approximately 11-to-19 percent more likely to cover a firm's earnings announcements if they convey poor performance. Similarly, in forecasting tests, greater media coverage predicts subsequently announced declines in firms' profitability and negative analyst-based earnings surprises. A simple long-short strategy betting against firms with high media coverage yields an average return of roughly 40 basis points per month, suggesting media coverage helps forecast future returns because the story selection process is titled toward novel negative events. Together, our findings highlight the usefulness of the media's coverage decisions in estimating expected returns, as well as a potential inference problem when researchers use media coverage to measure the extent of information dissemination and/or whether an information event occurred.
JEL Classification: G10, G11, G12, G14, M40, M41
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