Sunday, 14 December 2008

Harbingers of Doom or Balanced Media Coverage?

By Darren E Laws

You have to love the media's ability to embrace all consuming bad news.  It would appear to someone looking at the coverage of the latest global economic news from a truly objective point of view that good news is extinct.  High street stores are closing, banks are going under, the car industry is close to collapse, the stock market is in meltdown and if you are British, the value of Sterling is teetering on a precipice.

Redundancy is the new buzz word and don't companies love it. They embrace it like an old friend, because it is an old friend.  Many companies are using the current situation to trim the fat in preparation of a downturn, and others whose profits will be affected are using it as a tool to keep shareholders happy. The media reports on all of this with what appears to be apparent glee, which is surprising considering the desperate situation a lot of the media finds itself in.

Unwilling or perhaps unable to adjust to the arrival of the Internet, the media has seen an erosion of advertising revenue that is unparalleled in recent years.  Let's face the Internet is such a new medium they have hardly had time to react, I mean, the rise whilst being spectacularly fast is no overnight success.  The net has been growing in the popular sense since 1993 and it appears that only now with the widespread popularity of broadband, has the threat been taken seriously or the opportunities explored by a media that is now almost on its knees.

So, we have a scenario where the media that is reporting the current financial situation (and it is an extraordinary situation) is not exactly reporting from a media neutral point of view.  Talking down the economy is damaging, spreading fear and uncertainty is also less than positive but this is the position we find ourselves in and at the mercy of a media that is smarting with many newsgroups looking set to follow the banks, high street stores and the car industry. 

With such an uncertain future ahead of us we need to have balanced reporting and trust what is being written and broadcasted.  If we can't trust the news being reported in in these trying times to at least be balanced then they may just become the harbingers of their own doom as we abandon the trusted media for a fresh and more positive approach from the new media. 

Thursday, 4 December 2008

The 'F' and the 'C' word

By Darren E Laws

Steel yourself because this posting is going to be peppered with words that it seems the world is not prepared to hear at present.  Namely the 'F' and 'C' words. These words are not popular at all at the moment and have seemingly slipped from the vocabulary of traders and people working in the financial industries.  I know, it's hard to imagine that, especially as during the past decade we have automatically thought that their language was peppered with them and that almost every sentence was filled with one or the other word. 

I am talking about 'Faith' and 'Confidence'.  Our financial institutions were built upon these attributes and somehow seem to have forgotten the meaning during these past turbulent months.  It would appear that every piece of bad news, no matter how small or trivial has them running for cover.  The last time I heard of something so spineless it was crawling from the primordial swamps as an invertebrate before evolution. 

Unless these institutions get a grip or 'grow a pair' real soon there is a very good chance that we face a downturn that will make the crash of 1929 and 1987 look like a financial blip.

Faith and confidence are two key components that can make the difference.  Our Governments need it, our banks need it, our industries need it, our media especially need it.  We are all suffering from the inbuilt skepticism and cynicism of the media who, so it would seem, thrive and feed off of the misfortune of others.  The parasitical nature of the reporting trend currently in the media is depressing.  I believe they are so used to telling bad news they no longer understand the impact this negativity causes.  I am not for one moment blaming the media for starting this malaise, merely of fanning the flames and throwing a little gasoline over it.  Nor am I suggesting we turn a blind eye to the news, but we now need more than balance to restore the 'F' and 'C' words back into the vocabulary.

Today has been hailed as one of the worst days in the history of publishing with the announcement of job losses which show the impact into what has often been thought of as a bullet proof industry. We need our Governments to realise that industry and business need support.  Cutting interest rates is fine in a scenario which reacts in the normal way.  This action would achieve growth through increased spending and stimulate the housing market.  But these are far from normal times.  We need action that restores 'F' and 'C' in business so that it filters through the economy and increases 'F' and 'C' in the beleaguered workforces who fear that with every passing weak they are one step closer to redundancy.

We can all play our own part in restoring 'F' and 'C' by adopting a policy of positivity and trying to banish negativity from our thoughts, so that unlike our morbidly obsessed media we do not drown in bad news.  Don't talk down the situation, don't become obsessed with the bad.  Negativity is a virus sweeping through the world, positivity along with immediate action for business is the cure.