OLD Media Moves

The case for optimism in biz press

June 5, 2009

Yvette Kantrow, executive editor of TheDeal.com, writes Friday about the sudden optimism emanating from BusinessWeek and its editor Stephen Adler.

Kantrow writes, “In the video, Adler, interviewed by his No. 2, executive editor John Byrne, is almost giddy when laying out his case for optimism, which includes lots of money sitting on the sidelines; government infusions; an uptick in lending; and improvements in the stock and housing markets. Says Adler: ‘I see a lot of signs that things are picking up, and it’s just as rational to jump on that bandwagon and see that as something positive as it is to always be seeing the negative side of that.’

“But isn’t that the rub? If it’s just as rational to be optimistic as to be pessimistic, why does the media have to pick one or the other? Why are those the only two choices? Adler wants us to think positive — in the video, he urges us to. But why can’t we just think neutral? Or undecided? Or still trying to figure it out? Why does the media always make us choose between black and white?

“Adler and Byrne seem pleased with themselves for choosing white. Noting in the video that journalists have long been criticized for focusing on the negative, they boast of taking the opposite tack. But that seems weirdly misguided. Except for a brief period last fall when the media took a drubbing for acting like an economic Chicken Little as Congress mulled over a stimulus plan, the media has mostly been faulted for being too positive about the economy in the run-up to the crash, not too negative. The knock on the business press has not been that it was pessimistic, but that it wasn’t pessimistic enough.”

Read more here.

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