As much as I admire our new President, I'm unsure whether to watch his address to the nation tonight. Why? Because I'm sick and tired of hearing what a horrible crisis we're in, how the country is facing unprecedented challenges, how we all need to pull together to avoid a national disaster.
I'm certainly not blaming Mr. Obama for this situation, or for all the negative vibrations circulating through the atmosphere. This mess was handed to him on a lovely silver platter (mostly courtesy of the Bush family and their Republican relatives). I am, however, pointing a big, fat finger at the news media which has been feasting like a school of hungry sharks on the current economic downturn. The spirit of this nation is at a mighty low ebb, and every television, newspaper, and radio station seems to have made keeping us there the top priority. Even commercials aren't immune...have you seen the Target commerical offering do-it-yourself alternatives for everything from pedicures to pet grooming? Sure, go ahead and DIY...put all the nail techs and pet groomers out of work too.
While I'm not downplaying the very real troubles the nation faces, I am exhorting the media to take responsibility for improving morale rather than continue to beat us all with the "dire straits" stick. It has become exceedingly clear exactly how much power the media wields in this nation, and with power comes responsibility to use it for good. Does the continual barrage of bad news really serve the national interest? Could we begin to focus on some positive outcomes? How about using all those collective smarts to come up with some ideas for creating new jobs and industry?
Frankly, every time I hear a tag line which includes the words "national economic crisis" or asks "has American seen better days?" I feel my stomach start churning. Defeatist jargon and alarmist rhetoric will get us nothing but a nationwide epidemic of ulcers.
Just this week, I've seen a few new stories about the booming movie business here in Detroit. Several new productions houses are in the works, huge ground floor up facilities, that will require the labor of designers, contractors, electricians, not to mention food crews and housing facilities. Today's Detroit News had a (teeny tiny) front page story announcing that Detroit was listed as one of the top 12 cities in which to make a film.
There's some good news for this old town, folks.
There has to be some more of that out there somewhere.
Of course, it's easier for the media to capitalize on all the gloom and doom. There are plenty of people only too willing to talk about it, whether it's affected them personally or not.
I'm proposing we band together as "Citizens Against Negativity", and tell them to CAN-it. Until they do, I'm declaring a moratorium on reading/listening/watching any news programming.
When it comes to using the power of the media, we CAN DO a lot better than this.
Postscript: I did watch Obama's speech last night, and was rewarded once again by his erudition and elegance. I was pleased that he referred to other times in American history when the country has faced greater challenges and risen above them thanks to ingenuity and imagination. We need to be reminded of that. Let the rest of the media take a lesson.