Tuesday, August 19, 2008

What News is the Olympics Crowding Out?

Michael Phelps should stop talking and I don't need to see any more pictures of his mom. Yes, I'm watching the Beijing Olympics. As we all watch these Olympics, what events are we ignoring? Given our limited attention span and our finite time, what does the Olympics "crowd out"? An excellent paper was published on this topic in the 2007 QJE; The Crowd Out Effects Caused by the Olympics

The authors didn't really care about the Olympics; what they care about is the role of the media in focusing our attention on major issues of the day. When the media focuses on an issue such as Obama's days in Chicago, more readers pay attention. If the Olympics is on, the media is distracted and doesn't cover these events and readers and news viewers are not clued in about the events of the day.

So what? Well this QJE article provides hard facts that victims of natural disasters received less $ relief when the Olympics was on. Distracted people didn't become CNN captivated by the story because they were too busy listening to the brillian bob Costas and listening to the deep philosophy of Michael Phelps and dreaming of that handsome Mark Spitz.

So as we watch the Olympics what are we ignoring and is it socially costly that we are not clued in? This young President of Georgia thought that the U.S would wage World War 3 for him. Putin has a good sense of which threats are credible by NATO and which are bluffs.

We have learned that we have a strange choice for President this year. One young guy is running on hope and slimness while his opponent (the straight talk express) needs a rest.

As a risk averse guy, I would like to form a portfolio of the two of them. Let them share the Presidency with Obama handling domestic matters and international diplomacy matters while McCain handles the macho stuff at Defense and national security.

What am I doing? Well, when I'm not watching the Olympics -- I'm talking to my son about the new Clone Wars Movie (Star Wars) and trying to get myself to work on 3 different revise and resubmits at journals. I'm almost at the point where I will not submit papers to journals that demand revisions. I like this new policy at Economic Inquiry where they give you one shot (yes, no) with no "maybe".

The truth is that in the middle of August, I'm trying to get myself ready for the new academic year and maybe it is a good thing to have the Olympics help me to clear my mind before my own personal gold medal competition begins. I'm talking about teaching of course. I am an educator and I'm looking forward to teaching during the fall quarter.