Another Day, Another Snapshot of Media Pumping Out Gas Price Hype

Screencap of ABCNews.com, AP photo by Marcio Jose Sanchez | NewsBusters.orgThree things in life are certain: death, taxes, and media hype about gasoline prices. On television that third item often takes place not just in your usual standup at a gas station interviewing outraged motorists. In Web-based media, however, the still shot is worth 1,000 barrels.

We've noted how CNN.com has done it. Today, it's ABCNews.com with its front-page teaser headline "Oil: Another Day, Another Record."

The photo accompanying the AP story filed from Vienna -- yes, as in Austria -- by writer George Jahn depicts a gas marquee from an American gas station showing regular unleaded at $4.419-a-gallon. Here's how the caption for the AP photo by Marcio Jose Sanchez that accompanies Jahn's article reads (emphasis mine):

A motorist fuels up at a gas station in San Mateo, Calif. For those praying that oil's meteoric rise to near $120 a barrel is just another another economic bubble, their hopes may get deflated _ growing demand and tighter supplies are likely to keep oil prices high.

Abandon hope all ye who enter here! Oh, and try our 89-cent slushies while you're at it.

Yes, gas prices are high and have been rising for weeks, but as usual hyperbole is the stock and trade of the media here.

San Mateo, California, is hardly Averageville, USA. The gas prices there, on average, are much higher than the national average. According to SanFranGasPrices.com, San Mateo averaged $4.014/gallon for regular unleaded on May 6, up two cents from Monday, May 5. The price shown in the marquee pictured for the AP story is 40 cents higher than today's average for San Mateo and 80 cents higher than the national average of $3.610 as reported by AAA's FuelGaugeReport.com.

Ken Shepherd
Ken Shepherd
Ken Shepherd is the Managing Editor for NewsBusters