I think that by now we can all agree that we are in a recession. Whether or not it will get worse or better soon is still, in my opinion, anybody’s guess (and it truly is just a guess). Now that we know that we’re in a recession, it’s time to stop speculating, time to stop fear- and rumor-mongering. Time to turn off the news.
The news media makes money through advertising. Advertisers pay a lot of money to have their brands placed in front of viewers. So, the more viewers a television station or program has, the more advertising revenue they receive.
Which means they will do whatever possible to get you to watch.
Fear sells. Sensationalism sells. Crime, rumor, gossip all sell.
In a great article written by Chris Lytle and posted in the Arcamax recipe newsletter of recipe guru and consultant “Zola Gorgon”, he advocates turning off the news. I agree. I honestly believe that if Americans spent less time watching sensationalist news stories about how terrible things are, the economy would not have suffered as much as it has. Yet fear sells.
Anyway, here is the article. I encourage you take some time to really absorb the article, and to do as Lytle suggests. This is also a great time to begin some new frugal habits. It’s never to late to be frugal! And remember, fear sells!
Get Over It (Fear) and Get on With It (Your Life)
By Chris Lytle
It’s here. We’re officially in a recession. You can quit worrying that it might be coming.
Now here’s how Forbes defines recession: “A significant decline in activity across the economy, lasting longer than a few months. It is visible in industrial production, employment, real income and wholesale-retail trade. The technical indicator of a recession is two consecutive quarters of negative economic growth as measured by a country’s gross domestic product (GDP).
Recession is a normal (albeit unpleasant) part of the business cycle. A recession normally lasts 6 – 18 months.”
Hold that thought.
I was 8-years old when we got our first television set. Douglas Edwards was the CBS anchor before Walter Cronkite. The evening news was 15-minutes long. It later expanded to a half-hour. Now the news is on 24/7. CNN, MSNBC, Fox and other outlets have to hold an audience. And often they do it with fear and sensationalism.
Understand what you are letting into your brain. “There are also two distinct parts of the cable day. Daytime is more focused on crime and disaster. Nighttime increasingly is more about topics that spark controversy and suit the particular audience that tunes in to each channel.” (Source: Project on Excellence in Journalism, State of the News Media 2008, An Annual Report on American Journalism)
And you’re not getting all of the news no matter how long you watch. “If one were to have watched five hours of cable news, one would have seen about:
35 minutes about campaigns and elections
36 minutes about the debate over U.S. foreign policy
26 minutes or more of crime
12 minutes of accidents and disasters
10 minutes of celebrity and entertainment” (Source: Ibid)
Douglas Edwards had 15-minutes. Today you can be exposed to 96 times more bad news. And if you choose you can have more of it streamed to your computer screen. It can seem like the whole world is falling apart. Look, there is no need to be in denial about the state of the economy or the crazy things happening in the world. And at the same time, there is no need to magnify and multiply them.
If you must watch, I urge you to watch for a half-hour. Then turn off the news. You don’t need multiple repetitions of the same story. And be sure to listen actively to the way the news anchors tease the upcoming story before the commercial. Notice the words they use to create the need to stay tuned.
If the story is so critical, then why are they pausing for a commercial? Oh, that’s right, you’re going to need that sleeping pill they’re advertising because you’re now so worked up about the horrible things that are happening.
Suggestion: Look out the window. Walk around the neighborhood. Note people are still driving, eating in the diner and buying food at the grocery store. Write down ten things you are grateful for. Focus on those for a half hour instead of another half hour of crime, terrorism and celebrity gossip. Understand that business is being done and sales are being made. Read something uplifting.
Action will trump fear. Get on with your job and your life.