Friday, October 28, 2005

Holy Headlines Batman

I'm getting worried about the state of Journalism. Not, I'm not worried about the "liberal media" or a "vast right wing conspiracy." I'm worried about stories that have no more depth than the headline.

Maybe it's because I've spent more time looking at economic analyses and situations in the past two years than I'd wish on anyone.. OK, almost anyone. The news about the "recovering" economy (or the ailing economy) for that matter totally misses the ACTUAL state of the economy.

Here's an example, from the Post:

"Holy Katrina! The economy weathered two major hurricanes and in spite of that showed accelerated growth," said Ken Mayland, president of ClearView Economics. "I think what this shows is that fundamentally the economy was and is in really good shape."
He's talking about an annual growth rate of 3.8% seen in the last quarter. Yes, that is a good number. So what? There are a lot of other numbers (and personal stories) that go into determining whether people's economic outlook is bright, bleak, twilight, or noon-like.

What about numbers from the Bureau of Economic Analyis (the same ones that calculated the GDP numbers) showing negative net savings? That means Americans spent more money than they earned, for the first time ever, a few months back. Translated into "newspaper-speak" this means we're paying Chase, Citibank, and China for our economic growth.

What about numbers showing that corporate salaries are something in the range of 150 times the earnings of the average corporate employee? What about a fiscal and economic environment that says its better to cut-down, pull-back, lay-off, and get out of a location rather than investing in people and communities that will in turn provide quality workers?

At best some of this makes it into a story, but reporters aren't covering news anymore, they're supporting headlines. And it's not helping any of us get a clear picture of what's going on. Just a whole bunch of pin-points of less smoggy air to look through.

Later this afternoon: Miers getting Borked, Scooter run over by a Reindeer, is rapture really as close as some think?

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