Today the BBC news website made me laugh.
Go to the front page, and the headline is ‘Facebook in stock debut rollercoaster’. Click on the link and you see an article that instead says ‘Facebook shares see modest debut‘.
Why is this funny? First, because everyone expected there to be a rollercoaster, because other tech IPOs have done just that, and there wasn’t one. But more significantly, if everyone expected there to be a rollercoaster, then having one wouldn’t have been news. We were supposed to have witnessed a blandly volatile event but we didn’t get one.
The media has grown quite accustomed, it seems, to taking dull events that have the surface appearance of drama and dressing them up as narratives for our consumption.
When things don’t go as planned, the cracks in the system appear. The headline written before the event doesn’t get yanked. A much better, and truer title would have been ‘Facebook IPO appalls media world with mild performance’.