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Bad news put UBS on post-crisis front pages

A number of banks had their turn on the front pages as the financial crisis deepened Keystone

Switzerland’s largest bank UBS was the financial institute to receive the most press coverage in 2008 and 2011, according to a study of major English-language papers in Europe. It also found that the more business stories there were, the more negative they became.

The Reuters Institute for the Study of Journalism researchers looked at how individual banks fared in the reports of 11 prominent media outlets such as the Wall Street Journal Europe, Financial Times Europe and International Herald Tribune, between 2008 and 2013. Tabloid newspapers were not included in the research.

Around 140,000 articles were read for a larger part of the study, and each was categorised by its tone. It was found that 48% of the coverage was close to neutral or ambivalent. A quarter was deemed to be negative and 24%, positive. The remainder were positive and negative in tone.

The research found that the media was keen to report on good news, but failures or wrongdoings in the sector put banking on the front pages. Bad news stories pushed a bank into the spotlight more often when the news developed and had further reaching consequences, as it did for UBS in 2008.

The Swiss bank featured more on newspaper pages that year than any other bank according to the study. Staff layoffs following large subprime related losses and a government bailout contributed to UBS’s position in the rankings.

It was a trading scandal in 2011 that placed UBS at the top of the coverage chart again.

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SWI - a branch of Swiss Broadcasting Corporation SRG SSR

SWI - a branch of Swiss Broadcasting Corporation SRG SSR