There was a lot of good economic news this week. Amazing M&A transactions, rising stock markets and even Spain getting an upgrade from Moody’s. And yet when every weekend comes I know I will read another journalist telling me that while a lot seems to be going pretty well, that deep down, the world is falling apart.
Venezuela, Ukraine, will not be seen as minor pockets of violence in the most peaceful period humanity has ever lived in, but as signs of much worse to come. Or the Groupon share collapse will not be seen as Groupon under-performing but as an indication of the first air coming out of the economic bubble.
And again I will shake my head and think, where do media organizations find these apocalyptic writers? But today something dawned on me, something quite obvious but that I hadn’t realized before.
It is not the world that’s falling apart, it is journalism that is falling apart. It is the world as journalists know it, that is falling apart. Newspapers, magazines, laying off people, losing ad revs to Google and Facebook, closing down, disappearing. TV news networks losing audience to reality TV. It is people giving up paper for a tiny, mostly free little screen in the palm of their hands. It is people’s publishing in which so many volunteers do for free what journalists get paid to do that is destroying their livelihood, that is undermining the foundations of what used to be known as professional journalism. And the little professional journalism that is left is a winner takes all situation, all readers flock to a few sources like The New York Times and even those winners have barely managed to survive. With smaller staff. All professions have to adapt to changing times but few as much and as quickly as journalism. It’s like the world knows it needs journalists but has not found a way to fit them into the age of news as mobile snippets on Twitter.
So next time you read some surprisingly negative news think that the maxim of what goes up must come down is many times not true. It is not true in the stock market over decades, and it is not true of all the objects that humanity has already shot way into space and are not coming down, ever. But what is true is that many a writer who is forecasting decline has sadly met decline, personally. And that is permeating into what you are reading.
Photo: khawkins04/Flickr, used under a Creative Commons license.
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