To be a stock market investor is to suffer through a daily onslaught of confusing and misleading headlines. Even for those who try to tune out the noise, it’s impossible to completely ignore the chattering class of market soothsayers, doomsdayers, and the like.

The latest scary headlines centered on the elections in France.

A few weeks ago, Reuters shouted: “Euro Stocks Could Crash 35 Pct if Le Pen Wins French Election – Warns UBS.” The article speculated on the impact of a victory by Marine Le Pen, a “far-right” candidate who wants France to leave the European Union (“Frexit”) and abandon the Euro. UBS analysts said such events would rock global markets, pegging damage in the U.S. to a 10% decline in the S&P 500.

Last Friday, USA TODAY warned: “Don’t Care About the French Election? Your 401(k) Does.” The article cited a Citigroup report about a “nightmare scenario” in which Jean-Luc Melenchon, who leans so far left that he was supported by the French Communist Party, and Le Pen make it out of the first round of voting, which had “the potential to cause shock waves in the market.”

What were readers of such articles supposed to do? Should they have pulled money out of the market and then waited for the same news organizations to tell them when to get back in? Or should they have stayed the course, but spent the weeks leading up to the election deeply worried over their investment accounts?

As we now know, Le Pen did make it through the first round of voting, but so did a more moderate candidate, Emmanuel Marcon. Global markets rose on the news.

Dramatic headlines make for poor financial advice

When I was studying journalism as an undergrad, I remember a professor asking us to consider why the nightly news so often included stories about house fires and car crashes. After all, such events impact just a tiny fraction of the audience. He explained that they’re easy and inexpensive to cover. Plus, the drama draws readers or viewers. He dismissed it as “lazy journalism.”

Articles that impact more of the audience usually require more time to research, more people to interview, and more effort to write. And those articles usually draw much smaller audiences.

Drama rings the cash register. Insight can be boring—an expensive niche product at best.

Something similar can be said about market news. It’s relatively easy to describe the latest global news event and then speculate about its impact on the market.

It takes more time and experience to write about the unfolding of larger trends and to piece together a coherent conclusion from many metrics. It also takes a more patient and discerning reader to appreciate such articles.

Filtering out the fake news

The lead-up to last fall’s U.S. presidential election generated so many biased or just plain inaccurate articles that Facebook and Google are now working on algorithms designed to ferret out “fake news.” If only such algorithms existed for market news.

Until that day comes, you’ll have to develop your own fake news filter, learning which market news organizations and individual writers to trust, and developing the discernment to distinguish between “house fire” market news and articles that truly are worthy of your time.