The New York Times’ coverage of the IKEA tax investigation got a total Knife rating of 45 percent coverage, whereas Financial Times’ article earned 76 percent. That’s a 31-point difference between two outlets covering the exact same news event. Let’s look at why.
First, read the opening of the Times article:
Ingvar Kamprad, the founder of the global furniture retailer Ikea, is known for buying his clothes at flea markets, driving an old Volvo and flying only economy class. Although he is a billionaire many times over, he revels in his reputation for saving money.
Now, European regulators are accusing Mr. Kamprad’s company of pushing the concept of thriftiness beyond the limits of the law by maneuvering to reduce its tax bill in the countries where it operates.
These two paragraphs carry a lot of implications. There are three main ways it distorts the facts:
The Times’ article also has more subjective language (which lowered its spin rating) and includes fewer comments from Ikea itself (which lowered its slant rating).
Contrast the Times’ lead to FT’s headline and sub-headline:
Ikea’s tax arrangements investigated by EU Competition regulator probes Dutch rulings that allowed flat-pack retailer to cut bills
FT is more informative about the actual news. The article also includes less spin and more statements from Ikea about its position on the investigation.
If the goal of the news is to entertain us, then the Times probably did it best in this case. But if the goal is to provide facts about what’s going on in the world so we can make better decisions, then FT did a better job.
To learn more about EU tax policy, click here.
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Jens Erik Gould
Jens is a political, business and entertainment writer and editor who has reported from a dozen countries for media outlets including The New York Times, National Public Radio and Bloomberg News