After having read the reaction to last weekâ€™s good news on the unemployment front, I think that this damning description has to be laid at the feet of the media industry. Now I know that bad news sells and that half-truths are often more compelling than the full truth but over recent months, I just sense this almost primal attraction by journalists to finding the bad news, at any cost. Itâ€™s as if they have lost the appetite or even the courage to report on the good news.
The current economic news in America is a great example. Here is a summary of some of the current trends:
We are through the recession
Things are looking better, although itâ€™s still tough for many
Domestic manufacturing continues to rise
Unemployment levels continue to go down
There are lots of positive signs from domestic energy initiatives
Consumer confidence is returning
Companies have lots of cash
GM is once again the worldâ€™s biggest car maker
By any reasonable standard, this sounds as if things are definitely heading in the right direction. So why isnâ€™t that message being delivered?
In business at the moment, everyone I talk to is feeling more optimistic generally about the future. Year on year growth is real and confidence is returning to many levels of industry. Now of course things can implode and the threat from Europeâ€™s crisis should be borne in mind, but it hasnâ€™t imploded yet so why is this optimism, felt by business leaders of all types, not reflected in the media? Strange?
Reading various news sources last Friday in advance of the January unemployment figures gave a fairly consistent prognosis, with â€śstagnant unemploymentâ€ť being the most common prediction. No one even appeared to give thought to an improving situation.
Following the release of the data showing that 236,000 new jobs had been created in January, the immediate response from most news sources was positive, SOâ€¦
What on earth is driving this almost magnetic attraction by the media to the pessimistic, to the glass half empty? And on this point I am completely mystified.
Is it because they, the media, know something that we, in business donâ€™t know? I donâ€™t think so.
Is it to cover their media backsides in the event that things do deteriorate again â€“ the â€śI told you soâ€ť syndrome? Maybe.
Is it because they have been reporting on the recession for so long, that they have missed the fact that it ended? This canâ€™t be the case â€“ these media folk are smart.
Is it some weird political infection thatâ€™s coloring journalistic thinking? And the answer is– no more than usual!!
I see this disconnect in interpretation between the business world and the media world as obviously a problem and it has a potentially huge psychological impact on the nationâ€™s progress. I am not for a moment suggesting candy coating the situation but the media, by taking a pessimistic direction, is doing the country a disservice. We all know confidence begets confidence and this is exactly the time when we need to feel good and positive about the future.
I just wish those media folks would understand that their fascination and obsession about finding the bad is at risk of making them all look increasingly out of touch with reality.
Hereâ€™s to a brighter and rosier 2012 â€“ brought to you from the world of business.