It’s the Media, Stupid!

David Leonhardt's otherwise excellent column in the January 21st New York Times misses the mark in explaining why so many Americans are pessimistic about our short-term economic prospects.

Leonhardt does an exemplary job of comparing and contrasting today's travails with the last truly sizable recession in 1982. Despite the fact that the '82 downturn was more severe in almost every sense, Leonhardt reports that Americans were more bullish about an upturn than now.Recession

He explains the disconnect in two ways: the economic expansion that just ended a few months back wasn't nearly as strong as the one in the 1970s that preceded the last big recession. Second, people today seem to realize we haven't yet bottomed out and that the worst is yet to come.  

Here's the real reason everyone's so gloomy: it's the 24×7, non-stop negative stories from Leonhardt and his peers. It's the media, stupid! In my opinion, the media's a big reason why the downturn started in the first place and why we remain mired in despair.

I'm not suggesting they sugarcoat otherwise negative news. But the media's hyperbole, in combination with their round-the-clock need to feed the beast keeps Americans scared. It's the current day version of the 2002-'03 "heightened terrorist alerts." Remember how the initial ones just paralyzed people with fear? Leonhardt & Co. are doing the exact same thing today with their reportage. C'mon David. Cut us some slack and report something positive for once.

4 thoughts on “It’s the Media, Stupid!

  1. i guess we will have to, Rep. all of that said, there are things folks can do to better their own situation. pay down debt, refinance your homes and work on what you can control in your estate/financial plan. once those steps are completed successfully, people will realize they do have extra cash to spend (and save) and that will help stimulate the pressured economy and cool nerves.

  2. Let’s agree to disagree, Lunch. I think the media have been fanning the flames all along. When consumers hear a non-stop, round-the-clock litany of scary, negative news, they hunker down and stop spending. And that makes things worse. The media’s a huge part of the problem.

  3. I’d say it’s a combination of greed at all levels AND the media fanning the flames out of a)laziness to seek out other stories, as well in the PR industry know all too well, and b) the entrenched ‘if it bleeds, it leads,’ mentality among the media.
    BTW, Rep, isn’t the word ‘media’ plural?

  4. big government, greed, living outside our means, misappropriation of money (by borrowers and lenders) and fraud is why we are where we are.
    the news is simply doing its job of reporting our faults. once companies oust those responsible and fix flawed practices, plans and products, their bottom lines will imporve and so will headlines.