Saturday, 11 August 2007

Financial meltdown (or not)

In case anyone suspects me me of being particularly biased against the Israeli media, I merely consume Israeli media more than others, although even that sparingly.

Here's an example of feral media (I use Tony Blair's term) from the BBC World Service, generally (or at least historically) considered to be a serious, responsible news medium.

Last Friday I was listening to Newshour hosted by Audrey Carvel when the breaking story (in the absence of other stories in a very quiet summer season) was the latest nervousness in international financial markets. At broadcast time, the European stock markets had fallen by some 2% on the day, a significant but not dramatic fall. The markets were waiting for the opening of Wall Street (New York Stock Exchange) but the programme's presenter was already bandying the word "meltdown". It has wonderful connotations of nuclear catastrophe and more. She interviewed several journalists and financial experts and, although she professed concern for the common man (a common journalistic trick), it was quite clear that she was watering at the mouth at the prospect of a wonderful disaster which would make superb news.

It didn't happen (the NYSE fell some 31 points on the day) and it may still. The point is the Schadenfreude of the media, their apparently insatiable appetite for disaster and destruction and anything that can increase the level of fear and hysteria amongst the listening audience. I shall continue listening to as little "news" as possible.