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Wednesday, February 9th, 2011
the briefing

A January article in the New York Times was titled, “Where News is Power, A Fight to be Well-Armed.”New York Times | The story, by Ashley Parker, begins with a modern time-and-motion study. Reading that headline, one might think that it concerned the scrapping for information that goes on in the investment world.  But the piece carried the subhead, “Army of Young Aides Informs Capitol Elite” and followed the foot soldiers in the battle over political ideas that is waged day by day in Washington.

As in the markets, the news cycle in the nation’s capitol is relentless and the spin cycle eternal.

In each realm there are folks preparing daily briefings for internal review and external communication, some slanted by definition and others attempting to be objective.  There’s no mystery as to which category the compilations from the U.S. Chamber of Commerce or the Democratic National Committee (two examples used in the Times article) fit into; I wouldn’t go looking there for unbiased analysis.  Yet, those opinions are aggressively marketed to media outlets, bloggers, etc. as the news of the day — and you can imagine the joy of the creators when one of their angles takes hold in the public consciousness.

The same is true for those trying to sell products and ideas in the investment markets.  Their daily updates propagate among investors and are generally pretty predictable, although some of the authors do change interpretative sides every now and then.  (The “permas” don’t.)  As with a political briefing, you have to try to sort out the reporting from the analysis from the attempts to shape the market discourse.

You likely get several of these briefings in your inbox or RSS feed or Twitter stream each day.  They take the form of newsletters, linkfests, digests, etc.  And then there are your go-to websites, which by their editorial choices prioritize content for you.

Where would you place each on the spectrum of fact versus opinion?  If there is analysis given, how evenhanded and complete is it?  What are the motivations of those who have disseminated the content?  What are the hidden assumptions in the flow of information that you rely upon?

Imagine that you had an army of staffers that prepared an investment briefing for you each day.  What guidelines would you have them follow so that the information helps you to make good decisions?  Then ask yourself how many of your current sources meet that test.

An article in the ____________ on Tuesday was titled, “Where News is Power, A Fight to be Well-Armed.” One could be forgiven for thinking from the title that it concerned the scrapping for information that goes in the investment world. But this piece carried the subhead, “Army of Young Aides Informs Capitol Elite” and concerns the battle for ideas that is waged day by day in Washington. It’s well worth the read to learn about the mechanics of shaping

As in the markets, the news cycle is relentless and the spin cycle evergreen.

While it concerns the

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