I don't live in New York City. It has it's charms, but most of them are lost on me. Concrete, traffic, noise not my idea of a place to call home. So I live in the burbs. We have grass and trees and wildlife passing through the yard in a variety that still surprises me. Owls, hawks, coyotes, groundhogs, wild turkeys and way too many deer. But I digress. This is not about city versus suburban living.
Its about New York versus the rest of the country, and it was motivated by a conversation I had with an acquaintance yesterday morning. We both ride one of the early trains that takes us from our outlying town into the heart of Manhattan. He like so many in New York works in the financial industry. Hes an investment advisor for a relatively small firm, someone who tries to help the rest of us figure out good, safe places to put our money these days.
As we left the train station and walked toward our respective offices, we were talking aboutwhat else? The economy. He said something that surprised me: "I find, as I travel around the country talking to clients, that theres generally a lot more optimism about the situation than you find here in New York."
I hope hes right! Optimism, more than anything, is what the nation needs right now. One of the ongoing philosophical arguments we have at Happening Now revolves around the steady drumbeat of bad news that seems to cross the wires: layoffs, financial scandals, another drop in the Dow, a retail report that shows consumers arent spending, housing starts down for another month.
I sometimes worry that in a place like New York City where the successes and failures of Wall Street have such an inordinate impact on the local economy, we in the media are making too much of this economic downturn. It doesn't help that so many media headquarters are packed together on this little concrete island. Wall Street stumbles and we in the media are there to witness it firsthand. And what happens when we witness something? We write about it, or put it on TV. We share it with our viewers, readers and listeners. That steady diet of bad news doesnt do anything to make any of YOU feel positive about this nation and our shared future.
We spend a fair amount of time at our morning editorial meetings discussing this question: Theres plenty of bad news out there to report, or so it seems, but are we overdoing it? Are wein the New-York-centric medialooking at the world through mud-colored glasses? Do you feel its as bad as we in the media are making it out to be?
If my friend is right, maybe were overdoing it, even at Fox News, where we try very hard to keep things "Fair and Balanced." Wed love to hear your thoughts.