I made a Twitter post yesterday after hearing a news article on KTAR about the hand-wringing over a 7.6% unemployment rate.  While not heard in the same article, I suspect there was also much gnashing of teeth and wailing.  In the Arizona Republic today there is another article, this time in print citing the same statistic – again, I almost expected to see a photo of the wringing hands and gnashing teeth as our moral fiber in this culture fell apart at the seams and children we’re put into orphanages at an alarming rate.

crab-galore What did I tweet? “7.6% unemployment rate reported on KTAR – no mention of the 92.4% employment rate; what (s/b – ‘watch’) what u focus on out there…”

I have a healthy distrust of the mainstream news media – I encourage such behavior, you may also want to disregard this article if you know what’s good for you. 

I respect that the new media only does what I know they have to do to survive – focus on what sells papers.  What gets me is all too often that it seems to be bad news about a kitten stuck in a well somewhere on the other side of the globe, but where I really get up on my soapbox is when they do not stop at just reporting it, they sensationalize it and drone on and on about the news items they’ve come across and make it out to be much, much worse than it really is.  Likewise, I’ve seen where they gloss it over as well, but that situation is not what this post is about – it is about the sensationalism that drives a woes-is-me mentality and creates stress for companies, families and individuals.

What I see in the hullabaloo about an unemployment rate of 7.6% is the much more awesome statistics of 92.4% that is a demonstration of the strength of our culture and economy. this is a much more relevant aspect than any kind of statement about it’s weakness in a 7.6% number.  We have such a strong system in our culture that even in troubling economic times, where our representative government somehow thinks it appropriate to throw mountains of cash at failing business models, we can keep more people working than not – many more.

The coverage on the 92.4% employment rate was in the paper today too by the way – business section, page two – I guess it was at least mentioned eh?

So what is this rant about?  I’m not going to try and make this a metaphysical rant, but I believe it is bad (as in not good) for our psyche when the mainstream media (print, radio and television) insists on spewing this unrelenting stream about how bad things are.  I think it is a pretty well proven adage that if you focus on bad things, bad things happen; focus on good things, good things happen and problems seem to get solved.

Now I can respect that It may not be possible for mainstream media to alter decades of ingrained behavior, their focusing on sensationalism and exploiting the dead bodies it finds in the nooks and crannies of our culture may be too deeply rooted in the news gathering / reporting culture – but I REALLY wish it would.  They may be forced to by the changes in our culture brought on by online & social media.

It is a changing tide when social media participants / citizen journalist are the ones who file the reports on the powerful forces that will drive our recovery will get increasing attention.  It is a sign of the times that more news is read & heard online than is delivered by ink on dead trees.  It is an indication that the the practice of not just reporting but interpreting the news for the masses is coming to a close when online media consumption is exploding. 

It is a blessing that we can use our own intelligence to make personally relevant interpretations of the goings on in the world for ourselves, instead of counting on the opinions of others about what is going on around us.  We can make a choice to focus on the 92.4% of what is working and realize that some percentage of the 7.6% will remedy itself when businesses invest can produce more of what consumers want to buy and appropriate, more efficient business models emerge in our economy.

Let’s be careful out there… don’t let the yelling of bad new obscure the overwhelming whisper of good news.