Education
Impactful stories
December 14, 2020

Why media platforms have an incentive problem and Nova SBE Awareness Student Club’s purpose

June 18, 2019. Three first-year Economics students at Nova SBE were patiently waiting for a confirmation. And, on that day, a year ago, Nova SBE confirmed that the club those students idealized — the Nova SBE Awareness Student Club — was approved. But why did they want to create a student club? This story goes way back.

As with many entrepreneurial endeavors, there was an inspiration that led us to ambition this club’s foundation. Hans Rosling — a late medical doctor and also a professor — and his seemingly optimistic worldview puzzled me as it did the other fellow co-founders. Was the world actually getting better? Was the world — globally — getting more democratic despite the recent rise in populism across the globe? Well, I wasn’t convinced by Rosling’s supposedly optimistic approach, that’s for sure. Instead, what got me convinced was looking at the data he presented. Quoting him, “data is oftentimes better than you think.”

Indeed, and Bill Gates agreed with him, it’s an outdated worldview to still think about the “developed” and “developing world.” In fact, most countries fall in between those two concepts. The Generalization instinct that we — humans — have is natural, as it allows us to save time and energy as we assemble many complex entities into — usually binary — oversimplified “boxes.” At least it’s a natural phenomenon.

But why did we want to create the aforementioned student club? The reason comes from an incentive problem.

Why is general opinion overlooking free and online available data, a fact that is contributing to a biased worldview even among academics? What is the leading information source of the general public (here I am — purposefully — generalizing)?

Media.

And what is the media’s main incentive? To increase its audience and for its top line (mainly from advertising) to grow. And the media doesn’t have the incentives to tell us that from 2017 to 2018, two countries turned from autocracy to democracy (in net terms), for example. Usually, shocking and negative news are the ones that retain our attention, the ones that increase the audience of media platforms and, thus, its revenues.

Incentives are the root cause of the problem.

And incentives are what led us to create this club. How can we expect people to cast a sound and informed vote at national and European elections if they’re mainly getting data from biased sources of information? How can Economists and business leaders across the globe be of any use if they’re making important decisions based on outdated or biased worldviews?

Image for post

As such, we founded this club to empower Nova SBE’s community — and others beyond — with reliable databased information to leave space for the audience’s opinion. Our digital newspapers and social media platforms helped us reach readers from more than 77 countries from all continents and get thousands of followers.

We are a knowledge hub inside Nova SBE, in which our data-driven members passionately discuss interesting issues, ranging from Politics to Economics or Finance, just to mention a few topics.

Image for post

Over the previous two semesters, more than 60 passionate and interested students embarked on our mission to spread awareness on relevant political, economic, financial, and technological topics. Together, we wrote almost 100 articles, from “The IKEA effect,” to “Are robots taking our jobs?”. We also held a podcast and an online debate on the relevancy of a Federal Europe to compensate for the exciting physical meetings we couldn’t hold during the recent pandemic.

All in all, the project’s successes were many, but still too few for the club’s vision. Exciting challenges lay ahead, and engaging new initiatives are being prepared for the following semesters. We hope you’ll share our purpose!

Pedro Leite Gonçalves

Pedro Leite Gonçalves

BSc. student in Economics at Nova SBE. Co-founded Nova Awareness Club

Website
17. Partnerships for the goals
4. Quality education
Education
Impactful stories
SDG
10
5

PhD Series - Meet Gefra Fulane PhD Alumni in Tropical Knowledge and Management

Gefra Fulane’s research focuses on evaluating the Mozambique screening program for cervical cancer started in 2015. Her research shows that there are implementations gaps and barriers which prevent women from doing the screening.

Learn more
Education
Impactful stories
SDG
13
4

Why do female perceptions on climate change matter?

Our alumna Inês Maria Gonçalves led a team of young women to develop a consultation on girls' unique views and perceptions of climate change.

Learn more
Education
Opinion Article
SDG
4
9

How can we bring innovation to the Higher Education system?

If we want to bring innovation to higher education we need to provide a multidisciplinary curricula that fosters creativity and dialogue before teaching how to deal with new technologies.

Learn more