Good Tesla News Wins Again, But Sneaky Headlines Increasing — #Pravduh Report 8

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Last week, we had the Tesla shareholder letter and earnings call, indicating that Tesla made a profit of $312 million. Clearly, this has significantly influenced the results this week, right?

I wish the results were that easy to interpret. The majority of headlines were positive. In fact, there are almost 50% more positive headlines than negative. Nonetheless, we had to struggle a bit with headlines that we were forced to rate as neutral.

Here is an example of normal headlines that are obviously neutral:

  • Stocks to Watch: Tesla, Microsoft, Ford, Advanced Micro Devices, Whirlpool
  • How Elon Musk’s Tesla got its name
  • Tesla earnings: 3 things to watch

Now, here are a few examples of what I have just called sneaky headlines:

  • Short-seller Andrew Left is now long Tesla — but he’s making a potentially disastrous mistake
  • Potential great future for Tesla if Musk doesn’t get in the way
  • Tesla’s Record Profit Week Ends On Sour Note As FBI Probes Model 3 Production Comments
  • Tesla announces high profits in quarter where Musk was embroiled in scandals
  • Tesla’s Model 3 Performance is an amazing car, but it’s got some issues

These headlines have both positive and negative messages in them. When we encounter these headlines, we can’t easily rate them positive, we can’t easily rate them negative, yet we have a hard time settling on the middle as well. These headlines are both ends of the spectrum at the same time.

We have a hunch there is one core reason to write a headline like this — to make Tesla look worse. If you can’t find something negative, you add something else to to make it negative. The reason we have the hunch about the negative aim is because the hard news is basically always positive. What is negative is the speculation, or rumors from unnamed sources.

Even when Tesla has a blowout financials report that is well above what Wall Street expected — even above what we at CleanTechnica expected — negativity is slipped in. Even when a major Tesla bear and short seller (of several years) suddenly turns into a Tesla bull and long, negativity is slipped in.

What I want to ask writers and editors is, “Why do you have to make everything you write so negative?” To address this issue, we are considering modifying our system to tackle the sneaky headlines by distinguishing how many are actually neutral and how many are on both sides of the spectrum rather than in the middle (a.k.a. “Sneaky” or “Deceptive,” or both).

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Aside from this overall report, keep your eyes peeled, as we will be publishing a pre- and post-earnings call #Pravduh analysis soon as well.

Also, remember that each week we are sharing the raw data (headlines and scores). You can scan through yourself if you want to double check our findings or just see the headlines. And you can check out our own Tesla stories for more context and comparison.

Lastly, before proceeding to the report, we wanted to let you guys know that in previous weeks the Pravduh team made a small mistake in tracking some headlines — we missed a number of CNBC articles. This should not have significantly impacted the results and this tracking error has now been rectified.

#Pravduh About #Tesla
Report #8 (October 20–26)

For the second time in a row, the number of negative articles is lower than the number of neutral articles.

The 4 sites publishing the most about Tesla last week were: Bloomberg,  Fox NewsCNBC, and The Street.

Aside from the websites featured above, “Other” this week includes: BGR (0–1–5), TechCrunch (0–0–4), Gizmodo (1–1–0), Wired (0–0–1), Guardian (1–0–0), NYT (0–0–1), and BBC (0–0–1). Because there are so few, we decided not to make an “Other” graph this week.


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 21 who published more than 9 articles about Tesla since we started tracking on September 1st, ranked from least neutral to most:

There has been some confusion that this list is articles published in the past week, but it is the total since the beginning of September.

The neutrality index goes from −100% to positive 100%. In this system, 0% is neutral. The number of negative/positive articles and percentages are also still displayed. This system provides a good breakdown of how authors are positioned.

We would like to note that in past weeks there was a small mistake in our system due to which Tim Higgins was not listed as WSJ. This error has now been corrected.

(For this entire section, 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.)

Again, here is the data from this past week in case you want to have a closer look at the raw data.

What Changed With Tesla Last Week?

Aside from the summary in the intro, below is a summary of Tesla news and potential news ordered by day. You can consider for yourself what were objectively the important updates in the “Tesla story” last week.

Our Methodology

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 do not find much variation in how a headline is rated, because it is a straightforward and clear system. If there is variation in how a headline is rated, we discuss and come to an agreed conclusion.

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 can be even more illuminating 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.

#Pravduh History & Extra Context

The CleanTechnica team started creating weekly and monthly #Pravduh About #Tesla reports in September 2018 after getting really tired of oddly negative Tesla coverage in mainstream media outlets, and after a little stimulation from some trolling by Elon Musk.

For those who somehow missed it, about 5 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 presented an idea.

Most people who follow Tesla closely agree that it has been the target of far too much misleading, unfair, negative media coverage. We here at CleanTechnica 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 of the story.

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 Tesla FUD and misinformation, and readers had been informing writers. We wrote articles digging into the facts and the finances. But sporadic, one-off attempts at correcting the record didn’t seem to be enough. Putting our own playful spin on the “Pravda” name Elon mentioned on Twitter, we decided to create #Pravduh About #Tesla.

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 have found the results to be very interesting so far, and we’re super curious to see how they evolve over time. Apparently, Elon is interested in this as well.

We would also like to thank Maye Musk for her support of this project and for using the data to try to improve Tesla coverage.

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.

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Chanan Bos

Chanan grew up in a multicultural, multi-lingual environment that often gives him a unique perspective on a variety of topics. He is always in thought about big picture topics like AI, quantum physics, philosophy, Universal Basic Income, climate change, sci-fi concepts like the singularity, misinformation, and the list goes on. Currently, he is studying creative media & technology but already has diplomas in environmental sciences as well as business & management. His goal is to discourage linear thinking, bias, and confirmation bias whilst encouraging out-of-the-box thinking and helping people understand exponential progress. Chanan is very worried about his future and the future of humanity. That is why he has a tremendous admiration for Elon Musk and his companies, foremost because of their missions, philosophy, and intent to help humanity and its future.

Chanan Bos has 118 posts and counting. See all posts by Chanan Bos