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Guest blog: Sometimes look on the bright side

This blog is taken from John Blauth at Media Digest. It raises a point that has come up at many meetings with dealers - why do the mainstream media avoid printing positive articles?

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Were a Martian to drop in unexpectedly and, prior to making any investment decisions, read the business pages in Her Majesty’s press, he, she or it would undoubtedly step smartly back into the saucer and shoot off to Saturn or similar where a more positive outlook might be found.

The disconnect between ongoing ‘let’s find a razor and open our wrists’ reporting and the realities appears to be increasing, to the despair of politicians and industrialists alike.

A senior economist from Goldman Sachs has written an intelligent and well argued paper in which he states that all the available evidence indicates that Britain will be the biggest economy in Europe with one of the wealthiest populations in the world by the middle of the century.

Presently Britain is the third biggest economy in Europe (behind Germany and France) but by 2050 it will have driven past both countries. Dominic Wilson, chief markets economist at Goldman Sachs, says that while Britain faces several pressing issues including high unemployment and weak economic growth, looking forward he believes that the UK is capable of moving ahead of other developed economies because of higher investment in infrastructure and industry.

This confident and upbeat message does not seem to have made much of an impact in most UK newsrooms. It joins a disappointingly long list of positive stories, discarded presumably because they failed to fit in with an underlying media agenda that gloom sells papers.

To Vince Cable, Secretary of State at the Department for Business Innovation & Skills and chief cheerleader for the UK’s successful aerospace, automotive, IT and other business sectors, this lack of balance is both irksome and dispiriting.

For example, an unemployment rate of 8.3 per cent equates to an employed rate of 91.7 per cent – not bad bearing in mind we’re still enduring the fall-out of the gravest economic and financial crisis in living memory. But it’s unlikely you’ve seen it reported that way round.

The Economist points out this week that the list of companies founded during downturns is long, varied and includes global giants such as General Motors, AT&T, Disney and MTV. So where are the stories featuring startups as opposed to those highlighting businesses that have been boarded up?

Confidence, like gloom, is contagious and rather than focussing on the latter, or indeed the former, genuine balance is surely a better way to report on the one thing that will help us weather the storm and make Dominic Wilson’s predictions comes true: British business – its strengths as well as its weaknesses.

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