Scary journalism

I know, a contradiction in terms. But consumers of news are quite familiar with the media’s preference for sensationalism at the expense of information. (Readers of the Everett Herald have been routinely treated to scary headlines about the PUD. The stories amounted to much sound and fury, but signified nothing, as official judgments later revealed.)

Economist Dean Baker calls out the New York Times for scary headlines about public pensions. We expect more from the Grey Lady of journalism. He writes:

The NYT has committed itself to putting numbers in context, where is the context here? Virtually none of the NYT’s readers has any clue how large a burden $78 trillion is for the OECD countries over the rest of the century. The article did not inform readers with this comment, it tried to scare them. That is not journalism.

Baker provides a public service with the necessary context. The $78 trillion represents a mere fraction of total OECD GDP. The scare does not hold.