The mysteries of the energy business: what other industry could generate such confusion?

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I don’t envy reporters that have to make a living describing what goes on in energy markets, or elsewhere for that matter. Today’s media stream is so fast and relentless that a perfectly good story published at 9 am can be obliterated in 15 minutes by anything from news of an international incident to updated information about a Kardashian’s behind. It’s really too much to try to keep up a flow of steady, quality journalism in such a rapid fire world.

But still…is this really necessary, or subject to any sort of even animal-grade scrutiny? The following sequence of headline links appeared simultaneously on a Reuters Business page (“Latest Headlines” section) on January 26, 2016:

  • Oil rises towards $31 on hopes of deal to tackle glut
  • Stocks fight back as oil pinballs back above $30
  • S. crude drops back below $30 as Iraq adds record output

Each of these articles was (presumably) correct for a few moments, but went out of date faster than those stupid long pointy shoes guys wore for about 30 embarrassing seconds a few years ago.

The problem obviously is that newsmakers feel the need to comment on any and all market fluctuations, and instead of just stating the obvious (e.g., “oil is up 3 percent this morning. In other news…”), there is an infatuation with finding the story, finding the meaning, of why the frivolous and unexplainable price movement happened. But anyone who has ever paid even the slightest attention to markets knows they are random, especially within 15 minute intervals.

Through their (energy journalists’) eyes, they must believe that their credibility will be shot if they can’t explain why these price movements happen. Which if you think about it is a terrifying position to be in, creating the expectation that the reporter/news outlet can explain random events within 5 minutes of their occurring. That sort of pressure does not sound particularly appealing to me. It’s hard enough

It would be so completely refreshing to read news that was news, and not just space filler. Sometimes there really is very little happening in a certain sector, and maybe audiences would appreciate knowing that fact rather than being faced with a witless bombardment of incompatible headlines as above. I eagerly await the day when I can flip to a news section and see a brief comment that, at the present time, there is nothing new to report.

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