Should we report on bad economic news? A journalism and pr battle.

ecola-016I got yelled at on Twitter the other day because I retweeted some bad economic news. Well OK, she didn’t YELL at me but she did tell me publicly that it was wrong to tweet the negatives and discourage everyone. I explained my side–if we don’t know about it we can’t fix it. I truly saw it as just passing the news on that another major company was laying off employees. Someone had passed it onto me in the same fashion and I appreciated hearing about it. My follower said that sometimes she wonders if the reason “things are so bad” is because people keep passing on the bad news.

I messaged the person on Twitter and apologized for upsetting her–and thanked her for being passionate about what she believed in. And I explained my side of it and why I had tweeted it. We worked it out (agreeing to disagree) and she later mentioned that she lost a few followers after she had publicly confronted me.

I work in journalism as well as PR, and I wrote an article a few weeks ago that received a similar reaction from someone else. The whole article was pretty positive until I repeated some news from one store that their traffic was down for that day compared to the day last year.

In my eyes, it was “news” and I was reporting what I was told. I remain highly concerned about the world’s economy and I felt that, if they could, the public would ask how the economy was affecting sales. I certainly was curious. But for someone else, it was discouraging and “might affect” future sales.

ecola-045I don’t think that the definition of news has changed. News is still news–both negative and positive. And part of my job at times is to report that (although granted, it is not part of my Twitter job description and please do know that my tweets on there are 90% positive ones). When I am reporting news, I am not providing PR services which yes, should always be positive. I am reporting as a journalist, and it is a completely different ballgame.

What I do think has changed is our ability to deal with all of the economic news. People who are discouraged about the economic situation are having a tougher time dealing with it and perhaps some people are even fighting to stay upbeat during this time. To them, a tweet about “even more bad news” can have a negative impact. It is important that we also understand that.

I will be very honest with you and tell you that it has affected me too-as well as every other business I know. I’ve lost some clients due to the economy and had other clients reduce services. It’s tougher right now to get new business as well. I suspect that it will only get worse. Yes, the full picture can be discouraging.

A friend and I were talking tonight about the subject and we  agreed that we don’t know if the economy will (or even can) get better. And then we even spatted a little about our community needing a food bank. He doesn’t really believe we have a need here. I disagreed. And then I asked him to volunteer some hours there when we get it opened.

His reasoning? We have so much here in America compared to third world countries. Until we experience multiple families living in one room and a daily diet that consists of a couple of rice bowls only–we aren’t really starving like he feels it is portrayed  But, in his opinion, we might well be headed that direction.

So I apologize to any that I have upset when I pass on bad news and understand that there are a variety of opinions. Please know that I am a “fixer”, as my friend called me tonight, and my to-do list of things “to fix” in my head is about a mile long. Vocalizing something is the first step in working together to get to that fix-whatever that might be. I certainly don’t mean to hurt you in the process.

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11 thoughts on “Should we report on bad economic news? A journalism and pr battle.

  1. Julie, Excellent, thoughtful post. Unfortunately, there is bad news, and as journalists, it is our obligation to report it. But I do see the argument about creating a negative environment with bad news, as I have had some people get onto me for writing economic stories lately. Sometimes, maybe we do need to turn off the news for a few days if we want to forge a more upbeat perspective. But if people don’t know there is a problem, they cannot start taking steps to fix it. We also have to know that anything we write will be taken by different people in different circumstances in different ways. Keep up the good work.

  2. Hi Jules!
    Very well put.
    I haven’t “twittered” yet, however, what I’ve noticed is a general somberness (is that a word?) over all. More of a sobering up of everyone I know and love.
    The comments I’m hearing are, “I never thought this would happen in MY lifetime!” and “How will we ever get out of this mess?!” So, I’m guessing people who use TWITTER and facebook to “escape reality” well, they are automatically negatively affected by ANY comments that are even slightly down in tone.
    I love your sweet, loving, kind, and fierce spirit!
    Keep doing what you are doing because it’s clearly from your heart and your heart is GREAT!
    Sincerely,
    Reen~

  3. As a journalist it isn’t your job to protect people from news. Some news is going to be bad, some news is going to be good. Your job is just to share it.
    While I believe, yes, that this country has a huge problem with over hyping the terrible news and creating a bit of self fueled hysteria. (Like with the Terror Alert levels, that never seemed to be about anything other than scaring Americans into submission.) I also believe that putting our fingers in our ears and humming until the problems pass isn’t going to help anyone.
    Maybe your tweet helped move someone to go help a neighbor in need. You never know!

  4. it is true that to be a good journalist you have to have a objectivity to all topics, you can not take sides or not show all the sides of an issue. If one side is not present it is only because they failed to comment, which can be stated in the article.

    The only place a writers opinion or personal preference can come into writing is when its an op-ed peice or a feature.

  5. It doesn’t matter if you posted bad news, or if the media created bad news, about the economy, because Pres. Obama is talking down the economy every day. He and his advisors have talked down the economy, trashing it every day, since before the election.

    So, no, it’s not unusual at all that you would retweet bad news about the economy, because the media you’re quoting is just repeating the trash-talking of our “leader.”

  6. Thank you Jessica, Stephen and AngelRetreat for reading and commenting. Yes, a journalist view is a different one than PR and must absolutely present all sides without personal bias. That is so important to the integrity of journalism. Thanks so much for coming by! -Julie

  7. Hi Julie I tend to side with you on this issue. Ignoring reality and blowing sunshine up everyones you know what isn’t really going to fix the economy. You can’t just sweep it under the rug. Also I hate it when someone is just sharing a news article and gets criticized for it when all you were doing was sharing news. Don’t shoot the messenger. Also to Stephen who is blaming Obama for the bad economy uh guy the economy is bad and has been for awhile. I’m sure those layoffs that started happening before the election wouldn’t be happening if Obama stated everything is great and the economy is strong.

  8. Julie, terrific pictures of the Oregon coast. I’m a Portland gal now living in Atlanta and missing the Oregon coast. Watching Ax Man 2 isn’t helping. Best with the pending move. I’m enjoying your tweets and blogs. thanks, lynnATL (twitter)

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