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Time to Dump Media Stocks?

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Not too long ago when my bike group went for our Sunday brunch at the local deli most people had a newspaper with them.

For some it was nearly impossible to have their coffee in the morning without reading the news.

But that has all changed.

Now, as I looked around a rather large dining room there was not a single newspaper to be found.

Up on the wall are two flat screen TVs with CNN playing.

Nobody is watching them.

The good thing is that most of the Sunday morning brunch goers are talking to each other when not glancing at their cell phones—with just a few staring mindlessly out the large windows at the parking lot.

If someone even wanted to read a newspaper, then where would they buy one?

Around Miami where I live, there are no newspaper boxes on the streets. No news stands.

As far as I know, the last places that carry newspapers are the big name pharmacies and grocery stores.

Even then, they carry only the local paper and a few copies of the New York Times. A lot of New Yorkers wisely live in Miami since Florida has no personal income taxes but has sunshine at least 300 days a year.

There really is little news in the newspapers these days. The actual news articles are from the wire services. Everything else is little more than opinion pieces from staff or syndicated writers. All the same information is all over the internet.

Let’s face it, the formerly influential major newspapers just aren’t worth reading.

What about the news programs on regular television and cable?

They are the reality shows in the new infotainment industry. The news is only a backdrop to having scripted conflict between animated personalities.

It’s to be understood that the news media business model requires them to get the largest number of eyeballs on the screen to sell advertising.

Creating conflict or controversy is easy if the news is reported as issues. The format is simple with a moderator and two guests or a panel. It’s easy to find somebody who will always say the earth is flat or that we need to raise taxes to stop the climate changing. Few have any real expertise in the issues under discussion.

They have lively opinions about the Clinton tax plan or the Trump tax plan but literally know nothing about tax. Not one of them has ever held a copy of the tax code in their hand much less have ever read a single provision.

So, a moron is arguing one side of the issue and another moron is supporting the contrary point of view with an equally uneducated moderator in the middle to keep them going at each other. This vacuous mess continues for a 7-minute segment with the moderator then thanking the guests or panel for a lively debate– and they break to the commercials.

Do you want your news fair and balanced between two idiots, or should the news be true and accurate?

Just look at the reporting of the last debate.

The media thinks the debates are sort of talent contest. Lester Holt, the personification of all that is detestable in the infotainment media today, did the job expected of him as moderator.

Which I think goes a long way in explaining why the news professionals on the television and cable news shows are so uniformly preoccupied with optics rather than substance. And why the news media has little more credibility with the viewers than they have of Congress.

From an investment point of view, the commoditization of sensationalism has not worked out well for newspapers.

I doubt that the television and cable infotainment media will fare any better.

Why is this all so important to investors?

Media stocks are financially superficial and will be among the stocks that are likely to crash when the asset bubble in the financial markets suddenly bursts.

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