Le traitement médiatique des affaires de délits d'initiés
The cases of insider trading capture the attention of media because of the reputation of individuals and firms involved in that kind of cases. This media coverage has the merit of being a feared and therefore efficient punishment. Thus it is likely to deter market participants to commit market abuse. However, the media coverage of these cases (from the stage of suspicion to the conviction or acquittal of the defendant, through the various stages of the trial) can also represent an illegitimate infringement on the rights of the defendants. The press articles target not only the prosecuted persons or persons brought to justice by law enforcement authorities, but they also cite the names of the companies which issued the securities subject to the relevant transactions. Media coverage of insider trading cases produces significant effects that may be positive or negative for investors, managers, listed companies and even for the reputation of a financial centre. It is therefore necessary to ensure that the media coverage is not inconvenient. In order to assess precisely how the press deals with cases of insider trading, we have systematically reviewed the articles dealing with such cases published by two French leading and reputable newspapers Le Monde (general daily newspaper) and Les Échos (economic and financial newspaper). The study period covers the 2000s. The study is both quantitative and qualitative. The aim of the study is to determine the number of articles devoted to the various cases. We also studied the moment of time when the articles were published in relation to proceedings before the criminal courts and before the French financial markets regulatory authority (Autorité des marchés financiers, AMF), which also has the power to sanction market abuse. Finally, the content and the style of each item is carefully analyzed to assess how the cases are reported in the press. In particular we scrutinize the articles to know whether the way of addressing the facts, people and their responsibility comply with applicable law or not. The main results of this analysis are as follows. 28 cases are mentioned or described in a set of 287 articles published in the two newspapers. It appears that the treatment given in a general newspaper is roughly similar to that given by a newspaper specializing in economic and financial issues. It appears especially that many cases of insider trading are not at all mentioned in the press. Among the cases covered, the media presence is highly variable. A sole case (EADS) gives rise to more than half of the articles. The articles in the stages of criminal investigation and prosecution are far more numerous than those which report on the hearings, the decisions (convicting or acquitting the defendant) and the appeals. In other words, the media focus on cases pending, while they are not so much interested in finally delivered verdicts. As for the style of the articles, it appears that journalists often quote the words of the protagonists of cases (defendants, lawyers, prosecutors, regulatory authority, victims...) or even anonymous sources. The articles often expose precisely the current legal proceedings. However, the wording used to present the involvement of defendant hardly complies or clearly violates the presumption of innocence. The articles about the case after the verdict are little more rigorous because the release decision or the sentence may be kept hidden or minimized. Finally, this empirical study led to the recommendation that the media should address the cases more carefully and they should look for a better balance between information and personal rights protection. If these conditions are met, media can contribute positively to financial market regulation.
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Volume (Year): t. XXVI (2012)
Issue (Month): 2 ()
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