Thursday, 1 January 2009

(Un)happy New Year

My new job is to write about large companies going bust, or are close to going bust, and so this year will be full of bad news from me.

However, I am wary of the doom and gloom that seems to have infected certain sections of the media. This is not to say things are going to be great, but comparisons with the Depression of the 1930s, for example, are close to nonsensical.

Of the rubbish I've read recently, this piece by David Gow in the Guardian merits special mention for being so sensationalist as to make the Daily Mail appear the voice of calm and reason. Everything bad in the world ever has either just happened or is just about to take place. It is a 'bloodbath', a 'bottomless financial crisis', 'dark, depressed and downtrodden', 'apocolyptic', people celebrating Christmas were 'deluded' and further riots are around the corner.

It is easy to understand why journalists write in such a way. David Gow's story is largely about how forecasts are for Europe's economy to contract by around 2% this year, and there is political division about how to proceed. Well, economists' forecasts are both dull and usually wrong, and European politicians usually argue, so that is hardly news either. So, to liven up the story, the journalist has injected a string of sensationalist claims and fearful scenarios.

Here is Peter Preston writing about the boom in gloom. Such cultural pessimism appears popular and difficult to criticise, if you take a read through the comments below Preston's article. And while elements if it are true, many that repeat such facts are doing so because of a particular agenda - political or social.

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