Sunday, 22 February 2009

We'll All Be Rooned!

The Australian media, the world media has become obsessed with headlining every tiny piece of economic bad news. Picking up the newspaper is like hopping on the ghost train: with every turn of the page, someone tries to scare you witless. Turning on the radio or television is worse: the news is an endless catalogue of pain; reasons to be cheerful, parts one, two and three.

Can we get this straight: we all know things are going badly. We don't need to be told again and again and again.

The world economy may look like a car crash but do we really need to slow down and stare so hard at the site of the accident? Just as on the roads, the more we stare, the worse we jam up the system.

We all know we are in a recession; we also know the stockmarket is stuffed. The answer to both is a return of confidence, so why do we work so hard to knock confidence on the head? The misery-mongers would rather indulge in a festival of wailing and gnashing of teeth. Suddenly Hanrahan is back, dominating the conversation: "We'll all be rooned......"

I'm not arguing we should live in a fool's paradise, cotton-wooled from bad news. It's just that there's so much real bad news, we could be spared the made-up stuff.

Lobby groups are saying to the Government: "Give us what we want or something really terrible will happen." The honest headline would be: "Lobby groups post begging letters to Government." Instead, the media goes with the lurid threat: "Jobs to fall by third."

The aim of a quality news service is to give people an accurate sense of the world in which they are living. The aim is not just to yell "boo" with such force that everyone chokes on their Weet-Bix.

To be given an accurate sense of reality, we need to be exposed to a fair amount of bad news, that's true. But there comes a point where it is overplayed. By reporting every protection-racket threat as if it were already fact, the world becomes a darker place than it really is.

This represents a serious failure of reporting - of giving people an accurate and nuanced sense of the world. More importantly, it becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy. It leads to more job losses; further drops on the stockmarket; more human misery.

Human beings have an inbuilt tendency to stick with the crowd; we lurch as a group towards optimism, and then we stampede towards pessimism.

It's why stockmarkets always overshoot both on the upside and on the downside. It's why Warren Buffett has made a fortune through following the adage: "Get greedy when others are fearful and fearful when others are greedy."

The media has to report the news, good or bad. But it also has to try to rise above the mood of the moment, rather than simply reinforce it. The easiest thing when presented with a stampede is to join it.

How did Kipling put it? "If you can keep your head when all about you are losing theirs . . . "

Blues Point Reserve, Milsons Point, Sydney - Feb 2007 - Tree roots struggling against the odds to find water and succeeding.

22 comments:

Fly Girl said...

You're absolutely right about the media. It's all gloom and doom....

I majored in communication and was a freelance writer for my local paper during my college years. I knew instinctively that I had to be non-partial, and I was taught to bring the news to people in a fair and balanced way - reporting both sides of a story, not just one.

I believe the world of reporting has been bought out.... Few news organizations are unbiased these days, and they do seem to pour the bad news on in increasingly heavy doses.

By the way, Hannah and I just listened to another song by The Killers. They remind me of Ric Ocasik and The Cars.... remember them?

Roban

McMGrad89 said...

Here's what I said on AVT's post on a similar topic:
I feel "the powers that be" want us to be in a state of panic. It is only through informing ourselves about the true state of the union that we CAN prevail instead of endure.

If we aren't feeling some great sense that there is a major problem, we won't feel some great need for change and therefore we will not see the need to elect a different group of leaders.

We are then left with a self fulfilling prophecy: This IMPORTANT PERSON said that THIS terrible thing would happen...OMG what are we going to do...Let's stop spending our money...OMG - People aren't spending their money...We need to cut back on our overhead (i.e. payroll) so let's lay people off...I see all my friends losing their jobs...let me stop spending money...and so on and so until we truly are in a financial crisis that only a SAVIOR can get us out of. The aforementioned IMPORTANT PERSON in turn says - SEE I TOLD YOU TERRIBLE TIMES WERE A-COMIN'! I AM THE ONLY PERSON WHO CAN GET YOU OUT OF THIS!

Well, that's my opinion for what it's worth.

Butler and Bagman said...

Yup. The media may not start avalanches, but it sure loves to push things downhill once they start. And great photograph of roots...did you take it?

miruspeg said...

Roban - OF COURSE I know Ric Ocasek and The Cars....now I know why I like the Killers so much. My niece introduced them to me last week so I will have to check out there other albums as well.

Annemarie - THANKS FOR YOUR OPINION...I can see you feel very passionate about THIS IMPORTANT PERSON. Is the media to blame?

Mark - Thanks for stopping by and commenting. Being a former newspaper guy you would have first hand knowledge of what goes on. And yes I took the photograph of the roots, thanks for the compliment.

le @ thirdontheright said...

hello there - totally agree - there is that thing about say it often enough and it will be true ... self fullfilling and all ... yes we know it is real ... now move on.

thanks for dropping by the third :) cheers le

miruspeg said...

Le - Hello back to you my new Brisbane friend.
Maybe we should just stop reading newspapers, watching the news on TV and only listen to music on the radio.....then they may finally take the hint and like you said move on, and start talking up the economy instead of doom and gloom.

Stefunkc said...

Your top pictures are amazing! Well, all your pictures are actually! I just love to come and see if you've changed any:)

miruspeg said...

Hey Steph I love that you love my pictures.
Hope all is well in your world.
Cheers
Peg

Anonymous said...

I agree -bad news seems to create more bad news especially when it concerns house prices etc.!CJ

thezeninyou said...

Like Roban, I studied communications and journalism in college. I rarely watch the news. It's biased. No matter how "objective" any news station claims to be, it's not. All news is based on ratings. And guess what get's the best ratings? Bad news! Murders. Tragedy. So.... What's the point? I learn plenty from this world without turning on the news. Heck, your blog alone is a great resource and a much happier place to be!

Healingstones said...

Wow! Have you changed any settings cos I can actually reply for once (!!) I am so with you on this issue - fed up with all the negativity. Though I have noticed that it is a little better in New Zealand compared with the UK. Caroline is right - it's all about ratings and 'fear' sells! We become part of it when we buy those sensationalist newspapers (someone buys them!?). I love the pic at the top of your blog, btw. Where was it taken?

miruspeg said...

Cazjane thanks for testing the comments page again. Yes house prices are certainly looking crook, I am so relieved I don't intend moving for a long time.

Caroline - Cyberspace is certainly a medium where change can take place as we exchange ideas, share information and broaden our minds. We can create a new world order...we are one but we are many.

Hey Healingstones the new Kiwi girl! Yes I did change the settings for comments, glad it works. The header photo was taken in Dec 2006 in Kenya. We were on safari and visited a Masai village.
What an interesting people they are leading a nomadic life.

Mommy2Twinkies-Deb said...

I've actually been quite a bit depressed about the economy. It's been tough because we've lost all the equity in our house. But I agree that the media does create a lot of this. You know my husband's company is struggling because of a very skewed and biased mostly untrue news piece on them. Craziness!!

Love that last photo. It really had an impact on me!

Giovanna Garcia said...

I love the song 'human' by the killers. This is my first time here, and I am glad I am here. I like what I see :-)and I will be back.
Giovanna Garcia
Imperfect Action is better than No Action

miruspeg said...

Deb - Sorry to hear you are going through tough times and what makes it doubly worse is when the media just makes up stories because they are too lazy to check out the facts.

Giovanna - Welcome to my humble blog, nice to make your acquaintance. I see you popped across from our friend Lance's blog. Looking forward to getting to know you.

Lilly's Life said...

Fantastic post Peggy. Funny the words 'doom' and 'gloom' are going to be in my next post which will go up later tonight. I agree. We possibly need to avoid the news and stop reading the papers for a while.

Interesting ways the Government and Media often work hand in hand together. Whether a deliberate strategy or not. Of course the media have lost money to so unnerving headlines will increase sales. I read a piece about Rupert Murdoch and he said that it's the worst he has ever known it but he personally will sit it out and he expects all his competitors to be wiped out by the time things get better again. Leaving him richer than ever with more market share or at least advertising dollars.

You are right we need to watch some of the biggest businessmen in the world. Although Packer seems a little out of control, though. I just looked at the SMH website (I know, what could you expect - I like some of their blogs though) and there is talk of thousands being put off from major companies. My daughter is a lawyer and is handling lots of redundancies.

Ah well, we just need to look after each other better and keep positive!!! And your music sure does it for me. Now I know I sound like a broken record (it just occurred to me that that expression will die out with our generation, yikes!) but it's the best I have ever come across on the blogs I read!!!

jenx67 said...

the headlines really get to me somedays - along with hits to my kids' college funds. =(

I love your top photos. I like it that it changes regularly, too.

TheChicGeek said...

I agree with your post 100 percent. The media is so negative and it only makes things worse. You have a lovely blog. I've enjoyed visiting and I love your music :)

miruspeg said...

Lilly - Thanks for your very interesting input. I am sick to death of this doom and gloom, negative thinking. At least here in this medium we can think positively and shine light around the globe to counteract what is happening elsewhere.
Thanks also for being a "broken record"...great expression. We were born in a fantastic musical era and I am so happy the web allows us to utilise that music.
AND how kind of you to link this post with yours.

Jen - This time will pass and within 5 years the economy will be on the up and up again and the kids college money will be built up again.
I love how you change your header each month and always shows your beautiful smiling face.

ChicGeek - Thanks for popping over from Lilly's blog....I'll find my way over to your place shortly. It's great fun meeting new people.

Jeanne said...

Came by from Lily's....

Great reminders. My parents grew up during the Great Depression, and I spent my teenage years being warned that it's return was just around the corner. So, although I can see that things are in pretty spooky condition, I just can't bring myself to panic. Mostly, it feels like the promised shoe finally dropped.

mscherrylane said...

Yay for Warren Buffet! (I am such a fan after discovering what an enterprising child he was :)

Unfortunately though I HAVE been hit so hard there are no funds to take up the advice...I'm definitely feeling it that's for sure!

disa said...

I love it ! Very creative ! That's actually really cool Thanks.