Monday, December 29, 2008

Bad news writ worse

I don’t know which is worse: the current state of the economy, or the dire news stories that keep everyone on the brink of nausea.

Can you even remember a time when reporters didn’t spout words like toxic assets, credit crunch, retail shakeout, housing bust, holiday slump, investment scandal, recession, depression. It’s like an obsession, which makes it harder for everyone to sort through the drama to determine the facts.

There’s more than enough bad news to go around these days, but it seems today’s journalistic smash-up—mixing straight news with emotionally charged language—only contributes to the nation’s unease. And it creates the potential to become a self-fulfilling prophesy.

It’s enough to make me wonder how much of our downward spiral can be attributed to doom-and-gloom reporting. What we need instead is perspective.

Consider this: A BusinessWeek story, “Retail Reckoning,” warns about a big shakeout for retailers because there “are just too many stores.” “Rampant discounting may yet save this year’s Christmas shopping season from utter disaster, but retailers are still expecting the slowest holiday sales since the 1990-91 recession…and what comes after Christmas is likely to be even more frightening.”

This story ran in the magazine’s December 10 issue—in 2001.

So…déjà vu all over again. And that’s reason enough to remain hopeful, despite the hysteria. Everything goes in cycles, which means there are ups and downs. Right now, we may be in a deep trough, but things will come around again. They always do. It’s just a matter of time.