More on Journalists
By Arnold Kling
Tyler Cowen makes 8 remarks about journalism. The one that most reinforces what I believe is:
Journalists tend to favor visible stories and neglect invisible opportunity costs and invisible hand mechanisms, which often but not always puts them against the side of the market.
Journalists write stories. The best stories have villains and victims. The villain-victim framework is often ill-suited to capturing economic phenomena. So that while Shannon Brownlee’s Overtreated is praiseworthy in she does not blame the usual villains, it is still constrained by the villain-victim framework. I still owe the book a full review, so I need to resist going on at length here, but…
One example is that she thinks that managed care has the potential to be more efficient than our current fragmented system. Fine. But as an economist, I am inclined to ask why the market has not evolved toward managed care. My tentative hypotheses are (a) managed care may be only efficient for a few people, namely those with complex ailments, such as diabetes; (b) managed care can achieve only a small fraction of its potential efficiency given our current medical licensing laws, which micro-manage the process of delivering medical services. Instead of thinking along those lines, Brownlee speaks in terms of villains and victims.
Anyway, back to Tyler. His comment that most made me go “Hmmm….” was
Most journalists work in a declining sector — newspapers or TV — and this does not augur well for their belief in progress and the virtues of economic growth. They are not well-positioned to enjoy “creative destruction.”
I suspect that journalists have catered to what Bryan calls “pessimistic bias” for a long time, even when the news business was thriving.