Thursday, February 26, 2009

When Things Get Bad

From the Good News, Bad News desk, a lousy economy may be bad for business, even the journalism business, and yet, and yet ...

Here's this from a recent Pew report:
Americans continue to follow news about the economic crisis closely because they feel it is directly relevant to their lives. More than eight-in-ten (85%) say even when the economic news is bad they feel better knowing what’s going on, while 77% say they need to stay on top of economic news because it matters in the financial decisions they make.

In other words, when things go to hell, people go to the news. Sounds great, right?

The second graf arrives like a needle in the eye:
At the same time, close to half (46%) of the public says they often feel they don’t have enough background information to follow economic news stories ...

Rut roh.

So people care. A lot. It's their lives we're talking about here, they're friggin economic existence. The opportunities are there, news people. But the way we tend to tell news stories, especially economic news stories, often don't work -- at least in print. TV does this pretty well, especially CNN, in helping the average person understand not only what the hell is going on but also what it means to them personally

Other news providers, especially newspapers in dead-tree or online, need to think hard about how to make this work.

More on this later, especially on a set of famous experiments that demonstrate how we tell a story about economic conditions can influence who people blame for problems.

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