Saturday, January 21, 2012

Will Somebody Please Get the Story?

COMMERCE CITY, CO - SEPTEMBER 03:  Local resid...Image by Getty Images via @daylife

Foreclosures, as numbers are either up, down or unchanged. Bankruptcies too, are changed for better, worse, for reorganization or not at all. More people are employed or fewer, and it all gets reported as if it was a race and the only thing important was what horse was in which position.

The numbers, as reported in the papers and on TV are just the crudest description of what's going on and, as reported, are mostly useless for figuring out what the problem is and how to fix it. Unemployment may be down, but are hours and wages adequate? Are banks selling homes for a fraction of the mortgage rather than adjust payment, interest rate and length with families? Are new businesses the ones going bankrupt, or is it established community institutions?

People are foreclosed. People and their businesses go bankrupt. People are employed and unemployed. People and their stories are behind those numbers. People also have a big political decision to make that's driven by the reality behind the numbers. 

Unfortunately, obvious horse crap from politicians is treated as if it were fact because they say so. More subtle distortions are ignored in favor of who is ahead in a poll and whatever outrageous, often racist position they're promoting today in the race to the bottom. 

People want to know if anything is working and how long it will take. what jobs will come back and what's gone forever. They want to know why. They need honest evaluations of how. They need to know who is actually working on the problem and who is just running their mouth.

If all you present when covering the economy is whether this or that set of numbers is up or down, of course no one is calling you. Unlike political campaigns, no one is paid to feed the media when it should be out finding the facts. There is no ready told story, nor anyone to do work. Real life has no PR department. Just some really important stories that people really want to hear.

con·cept: Will Somebody Please Get the Story?