This is the second publication of what the CleanTechnica team calls #Pravduh About Tesla. For those who somehow missed it, about 4 month ago, Elon Musk got fed up with so much of the media publishing FUD (fear, uncertainty, and doubt) articles about Tesla, and in some cases outright misinformation, and he got an idea.
Going to create a site where the public can rate the core truth of any article & track the credibility score over time of each journalist, editor & publication. Thinking of calling it Pravda …
— Elon Musk (@elonmusk) May 23, 2018
Even if some of the public doesn’t care about the credibility score, the journalists, editors & publications will. It is how they define themselves.
— Elon Musk (@elonmusk) May 23, 2018
How well such a site would work is up for debate, but it’s clear dozens of journalists felt attacked by the idea. When people feel attacked, they often fight back (which is basically what Elon felt he was doing). In this case, journalists counter-attacked by writing negative articles about Elon. So, in the end, the tweets may have largely amplified the original problem.
However, most people who follow Tesla closely agree that it has been the target of far too much misleading, unfair, negative media coverage. We at CleanTechnica felt something did need to be done. As the stories — whether in the New York Times, New York Post, Forbes, Business Insider, or CNBC — got worse, we were finally pushed to more systematic, regular action. Writes on our site had long been informing readers about the FUD and misinformation, and why it is unwarranted FUD and misinformation. We did this through articles digging into the facts as well as financial analyses. However, that was not enough. Putting our own playful spin on the name Elon mentioned on Twitter, we took #Pravduh About #Tesla into our own hands.
We believe that reporting on the headlines can make a huge difference. The more these #Pravda About #Tesla reports get shared online through social media, the more people will take notice. If there is an ongoing heavily negative slant about Tesla in certain outlets — even as Tesla has so much positive news to share — people should be aware of this and approach each new story with that in mind.
In our effort, we track Tesla headlines and rate them based on their implications for Tesla. We are covering 22 major media sites. We rate all their Tesla headlines as either positive, negative, or neutral. Unlike a more nuanced scale, this system is based on solidly objective evaluation and contains minimal bias. A handful of us have been checking the headlines and we basically do not find variation in how a headline is rated, because it is a straightforward and clear system. That said, we will also soon open up the ratings to the crowds (you) in order to compare results and add another check on the decision-making process.
A sneak peek for the future, we are also currently working on something we are internally calling “FAQ about Tesla FUD” (actual name is still to be determined). This will have a list of every FUD talking point & common piece of misinformation as well as an explanation as to why its incorrect. We hope this will be a useful tool for journalists as well as non-journalists who don’t know what is true and what isn’t anymore. This will one day enable a broader #Pravduh About #Tesla program that analyses articles and scores them factually considering this list of known FUD.
In the meantime, we are fine-tuning our evaluation system and our reporting of the results. So, on to this week’s results.
In the first week of September, 208 Tesla-related headlines were published in the major media outlets we tracked. Out of those 208 headlines, 155 of them included negative insinuations, 26 of them implied something positive, and the remaining 27 appeared neutral. Starting from this week, we have a few new charts of interesting information for you to consider.
For a little bit of context, last week, a financial executive departed from Tesla for a dream CFO gig at another company. Chinese EV startup Nio became a public company and raised $1 billion from its IPO. Tesla also temporarily removed two color options for the Model 3 to streamline production.
This grouping represents only 47 of the 165 headlines of the past week, headlines that could be somewhat specifically grouped. The only group not represented in this chart is a large group of articles related to the stock market. There were 38 of those, which just shows how much effort is being put into influencing the stock.
The next matter on our itinerary is tracking the authors who published this news. While the whole list is too long to put here since there are many authors who have written just one piece about Tesla, here are the top 12:
As you can see, while some authors — like Mark Matousek of Business Insider — are unnecessarily negative, there are also authors who appear quite neutral — like Bret Kenwell (The Street) and Jon Fingas (Engadget) — by either writing half good and half bad or writing headlines neutrally. (Okay, there may be headline writers who control this part of their articles, but we find tracking the authors is also interesting and potentially useful for considering what kind of stories the authors tend to write.) This table is based on only 2 weeks of data collection and headlines. It will be interesting what this looks like a few months in.
In the future, there will also be monthly #Pravduh About Tesla reports and we are keeping a total score that we will publish every now and then. In addition to that, for anyone interested in the data we have collected, we will be publishing it every week at the end of the #Pravduh About Tesla report.
Any more thoughts on Tesla media coverage and #Pravduh? Feel free to dig into the source information and throw us your thoughts.