The Media and the Economic Self Fulfilling Prophecy
What grabs a bigger audience, share a story about a celebrity in a sex scandal or drug overdose, or a story about how perfectly happy that same celebrity is? You guessed it. Sadly the same is true with economic-oriented stories. As the saying goes, if it bleeds, it leads. I’ve worked as a journalist, editor, producer and public relations consultant, so I know first hand that the media’s job is not an easy one. They are in essence serving two masters, the public and their company’s bottom line - and often those two masters are at odds. On one hand the media wants to disseminate accurate information and on the other they want to grab a huge market share, often by sensationalizing their reporting. And it’s the public that is caught in the middle.
If all the public hears is how bad things are and that there is no relief in sight, they will react accordingly. The message of doom-and-gloom becomes a self fulfilling prophecy. The trouble is that in order to get our economy back on track, ultimately what we need to address is a confidence issue. No one is going to spend or lend if they are continually being terrorized. The media needs to report the facts, regardless how grim, about the economic troubles. But, because how they choose to report the story, is a huge part of the story, they have a responsibility to balance the negative and the positive and to explain their stories are not THE story. .
Because the information that the media has access to is often limited, they tend to cover the economy unevenly. They cover some aspects in real time, other aspects have a lag time, and some of the information is skewed or inaccurate. Generally they are describing an incomplete picture, they are seeing parts, but reporting it as the whole.
What we’re dealing with here is a very real, potentially disastrous, public relations issue. If the media spins a story a certain way in order to draw a larger audience, that can in-and-of-itself bring the economy to a stand still. If the public becomes so frightened by media reports that they stop spending, or drastically cut their spending, the economy stops growing and - you got it; the media has a real story.
So take the media with a grain of salt. Glean what you can from the informaiton presented, but don’t accept it as the end all and be all. The full story is bigger than one news report. Remember, the sun comes up, life goes on, businesses continue to thrive and opportunity is hidden within every crisis.
Copyright © Anthony Mora 2008
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