Study Looks at Media Sentiment and Coverage of Cryptocurrencies
For the majority of the mainstream, the rise of Bitcoin seemingly came out of nowhere. While coverage of cryptocurrencies did slowly gain steam throughout 2106 and 2017, the rising price of Bitcoin — culminating in a near $20,000 per coin high in December — brought a flurry of articles to print, television, and digital media. Now a new study by Clovr dives into how the media covers crypto, including when an influx in articles arrive and which outlets seem to strike the most positive tone about the space.
First, Clovr’s research found that the number of articles written about cryptocurrencies tended to increase as the price of Bitcoin fell. More specifically, coverage would spike following large slides in Bitcoin’s market cap, as seen in data collected from May 2013 to July 2018. This trend is most clearly represented in the major spike in coverage that arrived shortly after Bitcoin hit its peak and began retreating.
Beyond assessing the overall amount of ink spilled on the subject, Clovr also looked at coverage from several popular outlets to determine how many of their articles expressed positive views of cryptocurrencies versus how many negative articles they published. Two outlets with the most positive-leaning coverage of crypto were Forbes and Business Insider. Of the 976 Forbes cryptocurrency-centric articles Clovr looked at, a whopping 788 proved to take on a positive tone. This stands in contrast to the more neutral CNBC, which posted 522 negative articles compared to 465 positive ones. Meanwhile Reuters and The Wall Street Journal were among the most skeptical publications when it came to crypto, both posting around three times more negative articles about the space than positive ones.
Another interesting aspect of the study found that media outlets that leaned conservative tended to show more negative sentiment toward cryptocurrencies. While publications that Clovr said skewed liberal were near neutral in terms of coverage (51.7% positive to 48.3% positive), those that skewed conservative posted negatively about crypto an overwhelming 88.3% of the time. That said, Clovr’s collection of conservative media outlets amounted to just three — The Daily Caller, Fox News, and Breitbart — while the liberal section was comprised of a dozen sites. Still both Breitbart and Fox News were found to take consistently skeptical views on cryptocurrencies, with the former posting a total of 0 positive stories about the space compared to 66 negative ones.
While Clovr’s research might not definitely show that bad news for crypto leads to more clicks or that news outlets are inherently biased against these digital currencies, it is interesting to see how different outlets cover the space and when. It’s also a bit disappointing that the study’s cut off point was in July 2018, just before Bitcoin entered an extended period of stability, as it would be fascinating to see how these change of pace affected coverage. Of course, with BTC still trading below $4,000, one can’t help but wonder what type of crypto coverage is being written right now.