Reading the news

Yesterday a category three hurricane hit Florida. The same day, the editors of the New York Times choose to publish a front page article about the environmental impact of gold mining; headline, main picture, two internal pages… the whole enchilada.

Whatever the environmental impact is, this is not your typical front page story (like a ‘Martha Stewart busted’ would be). Environmental damages caused by gold extraction, whatever their extent is, have been going on forever: they are not news. I would expect a story like this to be in the internal pages of the paper.

I posted this observation on a gold investor’s blog. After a couple of hours I had created a big mess; some were questioning the integrity of the article and criticized the NY times for being ‘green biased’ and a bunch of hippies. The save-the-whales-crowd defended the article and posted hate notes against the gold bugs. All of them missed my point…

The veracity of the article is irrelevant; even if gold exploitation had no detrimental consequences for the environment and the article was purposely lying, it would not matter; few people question a credible source like the New York Times and if they were forced to retract from the story, they would do it with a little apologetic note in a corner of page A11 which would be read by far less people than the original front page article.

The importance of the article, regardless of its accuracy or content, rests on the fact that they decided to publish it. The fact that the editors made it the front page story of that day tells more than the article itself. They want our attention focused on this story, what they don’t tell us is why.

Are they trying to lower gold prices in the near future by reducing gold demand? Why do they want us to think twice before we buy the metal (Something like the guilt trip of using a mink coat)? Do they fear that gold prices will go up? If that is the case; why? Does the fact that “Helicopter Ben" was announced to be the successor of “Bubbles Greenspan” the same day had anything to do with the publication of the gold article?

I admit it could be just a coincidence, but it is unlikely that the New York Times leaves the selection of its front page to chance.

Media is a propaganda tool used to modify people's behaviors. As such, the veracity of their stories should always be questioned. On the other hand, the fact that they decide to talk about certain things or omit others and the side taken by the stories reveals real information. Those are the real news.