Are Newspapers Captured By Banks?

Tyler Durden's picture

With Donald Trump going after Jeff Bezos' "capture" of The Washington Post this week, along with Facebook's alleged liberalization of the mainstream's news feeds, the topic of press independence is once again back out of conspiracy theory back-rooms and near top of mind for many average indoctrinated joes. Almost thirty years ago, Edward Herman and Noam Chomsky claimed that media are “effective and powerful ideological institutions that carry out a system-supportive propaganda function," but as ProMarket's Luigi Zingales exposes, for Italy, there is some circumstantial evidence that Italian newspapers are captured by banks.

Economists would argeu that in a competitive market, media responds to the ideological preferences of their consumers, not of their owners (see).

This result is likely to be true when it comes to political ideology: consumers have strong preferences and in a competitive market media responds to these preferences. The same conclusion is less obvious when it comes to business interests. Most consumers do not have a strong ideological preference for the treatment of derivatives in bankruptcy or the proper accounting treatment of mergers. As a result, media can more easily cater to advertisers.

Yet, as long as there is sufficient diversification of interests on these issues across advertisers and media owners, on average the media can perform their function to inform in an unbiased manner, rather than to manufacture a particular consensus.

These conditions, however, are likely to fail when all of the media are in financial difficulty and the issue at stake directly concerns the banking system. When debtors are in economic or financial distress, creditors have great influence over their decisions. There is no reason why newspapers should be any different. Hence, financial institutions could–at least in principle–obtain a significant market power on the reporting of some news in the printed media, thanks to their lending. Is this just a mere academic possibility or does it have some empirical basis?

The current Italian environment represents a unique opportunity to test this hypothesis at least. Many Italian newspapers are losing money and/or are heavily indebted (see Table 1 below).


Even those that are not heavily indebted have reason to be influenced by the interests of banks. For example, Il Messaggero and Il Mattino are owned by Caltagirone, an industrialist who also owns a large stake in Unicredit, one of the two largest banks in Italy. Editoriale Espresso is controlled by the De Benedetti family, who during this period had to negotiate with the banks regarding another company they own (Sorgenia). The only newspaper that is not highly leveraged or highly dependent on banks for other reasons is Il Fatto Quotidiano.

To test how newspapers report about news that touches directly on banks’ interests, we need some events in which banks’ interests are at stake, and we need a benchmark. As a benchmark I will use the foreign media.  For events, I will choose government actions, one against banks’ interests, and one in favor of them. The first, which occurred in January 2015, is the Government’s decision to force large cooperative banks (Banche Popolari) to become stock companies. The management of these banks violently opposed this decision for fear of losing control. The second event, which occurred in April 2016, regards the Government-sponsored creation of a superfund (not unlike that championed by Paulson in the fall of 2007) called Atlante, to mutualize bank losses across the entire financial system. The Government and the Bank of Italy used their moral suasion to coax banks, pension funds, and insurance companies to invest in a fund that will buy non-performing loans and new equity offerings by banks. In part, it was regulatory arbitrage. In part, it was a transfer of the banks’ losses onto the portfolio of pensioners and retirees. The major banks heavily supported the creation of this fund.

Thus, both of these decisions had strong government support, but they did not both have strong bank support: banks opposed the first, and supported the second.

I collected all the news that appeared in the top 10 Italian newspapers during the first 9 days for both events, having a research assistant classify the articles on the basis of their content. An article is considered positive (+1) if it contains explicit positive judgments about the decision. For example, on 4/11/16 Il Messaggero printed an article stating that the Atlante fund was “an amazing result.” “To the many voices in favor of “Atlante”, from Draghi to the IMF, from the G-20 to Minister Schaeuble, the authoritative Jean-Claude Trichet adds his,” writes La Repubblica on 4/20/16.

An article is considered neutral if it simply describes the fund, as for example Conti’s article in Il Giornale on 4/13/16.  An article is considered critical if it raises doubts on whether the fund could actually work for the stated purpose. For example, an article on 4/12/16 in Il Fatto Quotidiano titled “Too many NPLs but too little money: the weight that crushes Atlante.” To establish what the “unbiased” view should be, I also collect the opinions published in the six top foreign newspapers.




Figure 1 compares the average scores of the articles in Italian and foreign newspapers about the two events. Italian newspapers are strongly in favor of the Atlante fund, while the foreign newspapers are mostly against. The opposite is true for the transformation of Popolari: Italian newspapers are mildly against it, while foreign newspapers are strongly in favor of it.

Since there is no particular reason why foreign newspapers should be biased in one way or the other, we can take their reporting as unbiased reporting. Hence, on news where the Italian banks had an interest in positive reporting, Italian newspapers are much more positive than foreign ones. By contrast, on news where the Italian banks had an interest in negative reporting, Italian newspapers are much more negative than foreign ones.

It will take many more episodes like this to reach a reliable conclusion. However, there is prima facie evidence consistent with Italian banks pressuring Italian newspapers to write more favorably about topics they have a direct interest in.




Figure 2 and 3 show how the variability across newspapers is related to the leverage of the newspaper. The blue line represents the average score of foreign newspapers and the green line the average of Italian ones.

In Figure 2 there is a very strong negative correlation between leverage and spin. The less indebted newspapers have a more positive opinion of the Popolari decree (like the international media), the more highly levered ones have a more negative opinion.

In Figure 3 there is a positive correlation between leverage and positive spin. The more indebted newspapers have a more positive opinion of the Atlante fund, while the less indebted one have a more negative view (in line with the international media).




Notice that because the two events have very different means, this bias is not a newspaper specific bias pro or against the government or pro or against a more favorable spin in general, but it moves exactly in line with the interest of banks: the more levered a newspaper is, the more it seems to agree with banks, whatever the interest of banks is.

How can this occur? While it is plausible that banks can put some pressure on newspapers’ editors, it is hard to imagine that any serious journalist would change her opinion according to what the editor says. Yet, capture can be obtained in much more subtle ways.

The most pervasive way is capture by sources. Often journalists are not experts on the topic they write about and thus they rely on the opinions of sources, whether they admit it explicitly or not. When the usual sources are all on one side of an issue, the newspapers will inevitably follow that bias. This possibility, however, cannot explain the difference between Italian newspapers and foreign ones. If anything, foreign correspondents have to rely more on sources, because they are less knowledgeable of the Italian situation. But they appear less biased.

The second possibility is that newspapers’ editors select the opinion to publish under explicit or implicit pressure from banks. To explore this possibility I look at the main Italian newspaper, which is also one of the more indebted ones: Il Corriere della Sera. I find that two regular economic commentators expressed negative opinions about the Atlante Fund elsewhere (in a foreign newspaper and in an online magazine) but did not publish any article in Il Corriere della Sera on the issue of the Atlante fund. This is consistent with the newspaper selecting commentators to write about an issue in order to project a pro-bank spin.

The data are clearly too limited to draw a strong conclusion. Yet, there is some circumstantial evidence that Italian newspapers are captured by banks, enough to call into question the Panglossian view of the media shared by most people in the economic profession, and enough to call for an investigation by the Italian antitrust authority.    

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adanata's picture


Is this a trick question...?

cheka's picture

after getting control of the monetary sytem the first thing they did was fund/send their agents to buy the papers.  duals all


macholatte's picture


The process of shaping opinion, attitudes, and perceptions was termed the 'engineering of consent' by one of the founders of the modern public relations industry, Edward Bernays.
-Noam Chomsky

“The conscious and intelligent manipulation of the organized habits and opinions of the masses is an important element in democratic society. Those who manipulate this unseen mechanism of society constitute an invisible government which is the true ruling power of our country. ...We are governed, our minds are molded, our tastes formed, our ideas suggested, largely by men we have never heard of. This is a logical result of the way in which our democratic society is organized. Vast numbers of human beings must cooperate in this manner if they are to live together as a smoothly functioning society. ...In almost every act of our daily lives, whether in the sphere of politics or business, in our social conduct or our ethical thinking, we are dominated by the relatively small number of persons...who understand the mental processes and social patterns of the masses. It is they who pull the wires which control the public mind.”
-- Edward L. Bernays, Propaganda

All propaganda has to be popular and has to accommodate itself to the comprehension of the least intelligent of those whom it seeks to reach.
– Adolf Hitler

It is the absolute right of the State to supervise the formation of public opinion.
– Joseph Goebbels

A Pimp's love is different's picture

Does the pope shit in the woods (& use newspapers to wipe his ass)?

bbq on whitehouse lawn's picture

Don't know, but if you want to tell a bluejay to shut up and go away its :whoooweet whooweet.
Thought id share somthing useful unlike your comment.
British or coloniist bluejays its Whoomweat Whoomweat. Check your area for more information.

peddling-fiction's picture

The media, music industry, Hollywood, Healthcare, Corporations, Banks and Central Banks, as well as NGOs, Governments, and secret societies are in the hands of the red shield and Zionist buddies.

peddling-fiction's picture

The truth may make you free (your mind) but reality sucks. A few brave men and women are needed to change reality.

mary mary's picture

I would add that the Vatican works hand-in-hand with those Banksters (and always has).  Recall how many movies and television shows include Priest characters, and how few include practitioners of any other religion, except for chain-murdering Protestant evangelists, of which there seem to be more in movies and television than on the actual Planet.  THAT'S PROPAGANDA!  And watch enough of that propaganda - and millions do - and next thing you know, 6 of the 9 Supreme Court justices are members of that Church, and their Court votes to allow the Banksters to put as much money as they want into whatever political advertisements they want in "your" elections.

peddling-fiction's picture


I will not attack the churches that received the keys of heaven and earth directly from Jesus.

I choose instead to pray for them so that their leaders receive discernment from above.

peddling-fiction's picture

<Veritas a Deo est>

<-- Deus misereatur animae meae

mary mary's picture

Yes.  I scold them because I love them.  I read that Jesus did the same.  But I have never met a Vaticanist who read the Bible, so I feel Jesus might want me to tell them a little about Him, so that perhaps one day they might gain the courage to pick up a Bible and read about Him whom they want to follow.

Jubal Early's picture

I don't think propaganda had much do with 6 catholics and 3 jews being appointed and approved by the TPTB.  How about blackmail and bribery?

mary mary's picture

Yes.  Other moves in the same game.  Like the running game + the passing game.

I read about General Jubal Early.  I like that name.

Jubal Early's picture

Thanks.   There were a lot of great southern officers to choose from, but Jubal Early stood out.  Do you think it is disrespectful to use a great man's name, even if I thought that if he was alive today that he would have similar views to mine? 

mary mary's picture

Heck, no.  I think it is respectful.

adanata's picture


mary mary +100   Popes are "kings"; they're drowning in wealth and their position is completely political. They work with the criminal and perform for the 'faithful'. I was raised in the the church and am only too aware of its total hypocrisy. Two of the most corrupt banks on earth; JPMorgan and HSBC, actually cut ties with the Vatican because the criminal activity was so blatant even they were scared off.

Jubal Early's picture

And that is why the tribe is so desperate to eliminate encryption and hoover up everything on the internet.

Radical Marijuana's picture

Yes, cheka:

For another historical lesson in how much effort powerful interests put into dominating mass media and controlling public opinion, consider Congressman Oscar Callaway's report to Congress in 1917 on JP Morgan's master plan, which has been in effect since 1915:

"In March, 1915, the J.P. Morgan interests, the steel, shipbuilding, and powder interest, and their subsidiary organizations, got together 12 men high up in the newspaper world and employed them to select the most influential newspapers in the United States and sufficient number of them to control generally the policy of the daily press. They found it was only necessary to purchase the control of 25 of the greatest papers. An agreement was reached. The policy of the papers was bought, to be paid for by the month, an editor was furnished for each paper to properly supervise and edit information regarding the questions of preparedness, militarism, financial policies, and other things of national and international nature considered vital to the interests of the purchasers."


"These international bankers and Rockefeller-Standard Oil interests control the majority of newspapers and the columns of these papers to club into submission or drive out of public office officials who refuse to do the bidding of the powerful corrupt cliques which compose the invisible government."

-- Teddy Roosevelt

GRDguy's picture

Sure makes one wonder just who the "Associated Press" is associated with. 

peddling-fiction's picture

Associated Press is owned by Reuters that is in turn owned 100% by the Rothschilds

robertsgt40's picture

Obviously a trick question.  Its been fact for about a 100 yrs. The tribe is doing its best to cover all power centers. It's #12 in the Protocols 

Jubal Early's picture

but but but the jew media keeps insisting the the protocols were "forged"...

debtor of last resort's picture

Well, here's my populist, xenophobic, hard right wing answer to the corporate politics prostitute medias; Fuck you!

Haole's picture

“Think of the press as a great keyboard on which the government can play.” - Joseph Goebbels

debtor of last resort's picture

Let's have another 'ism; Goebbelism.

death2Tyrant-asauras's picture

da Nazis got most of their propaganda techniques from american advertising.


see Edward Bernays on same.

MedicalQuack's picture

Why not, the markets rig the news with jounobots...60% of what you read in news today is written by a bot, bot read trades, writes story, appears on the news, people trade on it.  Bot writes story on who traded on the last story, back into the SIP..a circle..knock off news too.  News rigging, bank rigging. polictics rigging...Killer Algorithms...

Tinky's picture

"Are Newspapers Captured By Banks?"

I've just gotten off of the phone with Andrew Ross Sorkin (who better to ask?), and he allayed my fears by assuring me that he can find no evidence of this whatsoever.

death2Tyrant-asauras's picture


r the media owned?


that was answered a long time ago.

simply: yes.


thought is too important to be left to the citizens. aka, the great unwashed.



first, the robber barons bought up the important newspapers.

second, cia.


or go read Edward Bernays book titled Propaganda.  actually, start there. much will be made clear.


and I am willing to be that the greeks, the romans, the sumerians also controlled what passed for a news media back in their day as well.



a quick 30 second search on any search engine will find plenty of supporting data.

quick, act surprised.


WTFUD's picture

'NEWS'papers, bah, now there's an oxymoron in the same vain as Military Intelligence.

samsara's picture

Does a bear shit in the woods

coast's picture

I was gonna say those exact words, but instead I got off on a giving a history lesson lol...

Doom and Dust's picture

Stopped reading at

Since there is no particular reason why foreign newspapers should be biased in one way or the other, we can take their reporting as unbiased reporting.

Probably too late

Ignatius's picture

God, that quote is frighteningly ignorant.  Too late for the writer, I gather.

coast's picture

about 5 minutes, if that, after 1776, the bankers began controlling the colonies...Andrew Jackson, among others knew they were vipers and blood suckers and fought them..It wasnt until 1913 that the banks took over most of the government with not much notice...In 1901, the Rockefellers, among maybe another family or two began taking over the universities.  Either building, or buying or manipulating existing universities..They could not take over grade skools then, because the universities would have noticed etc.  So they started with the universities and worked their way down.  One major tactic is to give skools federal money for lotsa fun stuff like sports, music, liberal arts etc.  Then, they would tell the skools to do something stupid, just as obama did by saying skools need to have transgender bathrooms...This is a perfect current example. Then, if the skool doesnt make transgender bathrooms, they lose federal funding...The president of the skool say NO...Then, the principal of the skool gets thousands of angry phone calls, asking why all the music, sports, liberal arts, library are being closed, and the principal caves in, not just from parents, but threats from the bankers...The bankers bought up many of the newspapers and media a couple of centuries ago...Anyone printing the truth was destroyed,,,The bankers took over radio in the early 1900's, ie: WW2 propaganda.... When television got started in the 50's,  The bankers noticed how influencial commercials were, current ie: commercials could sell a 10 dollar pair of tennis shoes, made by slave labor in China, for hundreds of dollars, becaue they said NIKE on them..

 So, anyway, I am just spouting out this stuff that I have learned from my studies, and my fingers are getting know the rest....and I am even wondering why this article is on zerohedge, its ancient news,  Maybe for newbies?

coast's picture

May I also the New Testament, whether you believe the bible or in God whatever, doesnt matter....It was written that Jesus whipped the money changers, the only time in His 33 years that he got angry...There are so many other writing from ancient history that says the same thing...They are reptilains, just as David Icke explained almost 20 years ago, and got laughed at...But, intelligent seekers of truth are now not laughing at him anymore...Open your minds, and read history, read the Bible or other prophetic books..I recommend the Bible, a great place for knowledge of past events.  If ya dont like God then just use it as a history lesson.  ok then, sorry I wrote so much but just felt in a roll....luv

Captain Chlamydia's picture

Okay, I will try in the first place to treat the bible as history. Please Google for your sake: mithras, horus, jesus. 12 friends, miracles, christmas, virgin birth, father was a god, etc. 

coast's picture

I am sure there are all kinds of interpretations in regards to the Bible...I have found it to be very exciting for those who wish to learn...Yes, the electrical and spiritual part of the universe could get a woman preganant...and nobody can prove different..His 12 friends were more than friends, they were smart, good work ethics, very learned, especiall Luke who was a swcholar and doctor...miracles do happen thru those that get close to the universe, something I find in my own life but have a loing ways to go because I was raised to be a sheeple...We could go back and forth forever, just as written in the book of Job...They were intelligent scholars, discussing the meaning of life, and many scholars told Job to turn his back on his belief. I find, that when I debate the Bible and the creation with others, that both I, and those who share opposite opinions, are not even close to being as educated, leanred, and/or anywhere near as intelligent as those who have debated this subject for centuries. ALl I do, is make a suggestion, it doesnt matter to me what others do with my suggestions.

Yen Cross's picture

  lol> These conditions, however, are likely to fail when all of the media are in financial difficulty and the issue at stake directly concerns the banking system.

  Yeah, then the CIA and other domestic/ foreign NGO's take over and subsidize said news outlets, for their own nefarious purposes.

  When was the last time CNBS, CNN or MSNBS turned a profit? 

Captain Chlamydia's picture
Are Newspapers Captured By Banks?


Rhetorical question I hope? 

brushhog's picture

I dont know about 'captured by banks' its definitely captured by government. In fact I think it is very obvious that the media is just another arm of government. Then again government is just another manifestation of the big banks yeah, msm is part of that shit-storm.

gdpetti's picture

It's always been this way... every civilization goes through the same processes... every one. Newspapers are like the rest of the eastablishment's mainstream media.... used as a tool to control the masses like a herd of sheep, thus the use of that term in the Bible. Before the media, the favorite tool for manipulation and control was religion, and like our media now, that tool fractured over and over into smaller pieces... 'different strokes for different folks'.

Today we are at the critical point in the oncoming collapse as written into the script of society and engineered by our 'establishment' on behalf of their 'masters'... newspapers are old news, the current BS is being fed to the herd by social media, sports, theatre, tv, schools etc... all tools of the statecraft as every empire learns and passes down to their 'kin'... as Machiavelli compiled a little while ago.

Shlomo Schwartzman's picture
Shlomo Schwartzman (not verified) May 14, 2016 4:27 PM

Are Banks Captured By Joos?

Jubal Early's picture

Naaa.  Its just cooincidence.  They are sooo much smarter that they deserve to call us cattle.