This is the third publication of what the CleanTechnica team calls #Pravduh About #Tesla. For those who somehow missed it, about 4 months 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, that 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
Most people who follow Tesla closely agree that it has been the target of far too much misleading, unfair, negative media coverage. We define journalism as the pursuit of facts and reporting on them in a useful, proper context. When you systematically report with a slant that doesn’t line up with reality, or omit facts that are inconvenient to your point of view, that distorts the general truth and is completely unacceptable.
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, CNBC, or Bloomberg — got worse, we were finally pushed to more systematic, regular action. Writers on our site had long been informing readers about the FUD and misinformation, and vice versa. We wrote articles digging into the facts and the finances, but that didn’t seem to be enough. Putting our own playful spin on the name Elon mentioned on Twitter, we took #Pravduh About #Tesla into our own hands.
Of all the parts of a story, the headlines have the biggest influence — by far — so we decided to focus our efforts on headline analysis. We already find the results interesting, and we’re super curious to see how the findings evolve over time. Apparently, Elon is as well.
— Elon Musk (@elonmusk) September 17, 2018
Will be interesting to see how this evolves over time
— Elon Musk (@elonmusk) September 17, 2018
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. If you want to know more about our methodology, there is a comprehensive explanation at the bottom of the report.
#Pravduh About #Tesla
Report #3 (September 15–21)
In our effort, we track Tesla headlines and rate them based on their implications for Tesla. Our report covers 22 major media sites. We rate all of their Tesla headlines as either positive, negative, or neutral.
This week, the ratio of negative to positive articles was almost 5 to 1. There were 329% more negative articles than positive articles. Neutral headlines were almost the same in number as positive headlines. Even if you combine neutral and positive headlines, there were more than twice as many negative headlines.
The sites publishing the most about Tesla were CNBC and Bloomberg, followed by Yahoo in a strong third place. Aside from the websites featured above that published the most Tesla-related stories, “Other” this week included: WSJ, USA Today, The Verge, BBC, NYTimes, BGR, Guardian, Fox News, Wired,Vox, MSNBC, and Gizmodo.
Because there were a lot of news publishers with fewer than 5 articles per publication this time, we decided to publish a second chart comparing the news publishers that fell into “Other” in the chart above:
Last week, there was a higher total number of articles that in previous weeks. The negative imbalance as not as strong as in the first week of the month, but was much strong than in the second week. Furthermore, the context about what changed last week made that more confusing than in the first week of the month. The stock price rose from the beginning of the week to the end, positive safety results came in from the NHTSA, and sales were reportedly looking strong. Old information regarding a DOJ investigation of Elon Musk’s tweets, which Tesla voluntarily participated in, dominated headlines, though — often in a scary and misleading way. There was some positive news about other EV automakers, but nothing that seemed to warrant negative headlines about Tesla. A lawsuit regarding Vernon Unsworth also found itself in many headlines — more than any topic other than the DOJ investigation or the stock price.
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 11 who published the most about Tesla:
As you can see, while some authors — like Jim Collins (Forbes) and Tim Higgins (Wall Street Journal) — are fully focused on negative stories, there are also authors who appear quite neutral — like Bret Kenwell (The Street) and Jon Fingas (Engadget) — with either half positive and half negative headlines or with predominantly neutral headlines. (Note: At major media outlets, there are often headline writers who control this part of articles, but we find tracking the authors is also interesting and potentially useful for considering what kind of stories the authors tend to write.)
Whether a 50% negativity index is appropriate, as a reminder, depends on whether the Tesla company story really had a 50% negative week. All of the above is useful when compared to how Tesla objectively evolved or devolved. (Keep reading for some help with that.)
This table and the chart above it are based on only 3 weeks of data collection and headlines. It will be interesting to see what these look like in a few months. Make sure to tune in next week, when we will be publishing the results for the entire month of September!
Here is the data from this week if you want to have a closer look at the raw data.
What Changed With Tesla Last Week
Starting this week, we’re adding some notes about what changed with regard to Tesla — or public knowledge about Tesla — during the past week. That should help to put the results in context.
- New Tesla Shuttle routes were added in the US Northeast 😉 (September 15)
- Tesla brought collision repairs in-house to expedite repairs (September 16)
- Tesla’s unlimited supercharging offer expired (September 17–18)
- Kimbal Musk answered questions about Elon Musk in an interview (September 17)
- Saudi Wealth Fund invested $1 billion into Lucid Motors (September 17)
- Elon Musk announced that Tesla had moved from “Production Hell” to “Delivery Hell” (September 17)
- Vernon Unsworth (Thai cave rescue advisor) reported to have filed a defamation lawsuit against Elon Musk seeking $75,000 in damages and a court order stopping Musk from making further allegations (September 17)
- The media vociferously reported on a month-old voluntary request for information Tesla received from the DOJ regarding Elon Musk’s tweets (September 18)
- Bob Lutz released two negative Tesla statements (September 18)
- Audi unveiled its e-tron electric crossover/SUV (September 18)
- The NHTSA gave the Tesla Model 3 the maximum 5 star safety rating (September 20)
- Tesla’s VP of global supply management departed (September 20)
- National Drive Electric Week events wrapped up, after a full week of events across the world in which Tesla vehicles were abundant
- There were reports of Tesla Model 3 orders spiking
- Tesla stock price increased from $297.72 to $299.10 (September 17–21)
As you have seen, we track Tesla headlines and rate them based on their implications for Tesla. We cover 22 major media sites. We rate all of 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.
We define journalism as the pursuit of facts and reporting on them. When you systematically report with a slant that doesn’t line up with reality, or omit facts that are inconvenient to your point of view, that distorts the general truth. In order to be as transparent as possible, all the data our analysis is based on are published at the end of each report. We report the facts and let you draw your own conclusions about the story behind these stories.
We encourage you to check our data and have fun experimenting in the evaluator role — that is more illuminating in our opinion than simply looking at the results. We also encourage you to let us know if you notice something that was rated incorrectly or have suggestions on how to further improve our system.
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