Bill Morris: Distorted economic journalism? Say it ain't so!

Distorted economic journalism? Say it ain't so!

The following post appeared this morning on, written by Austin American-Statesman staff:

Is it too much to ask that journalists would pay attention to their use of  the English language?  Without even reading the rest of the article, it is clear that both clauses in the headline cannot be true!

It gets better (or worse):  The first sentence in the body of that Statesman post reads, "The Austin area unemployment rate fell in November, but job growth deepened, according to the Texas Workforce Commission."  There is the real news ... that unemployment in the Austin area was lower in November than in October.  If you have followed my previous comments on this topic, you know that this makes four consecutive months of job growth.  Does that information appear anywhere in the Statesman item?  NO!

In that same sentence, what does "job growth deepened" even mean?  Job losses can deepen.  Water can deepen.  Colors can deepen.  But job growth?

Most of the rest of what Statesman staff wrote compared 2009 to 2008, and yes, in that comparison, employment is down 4,300 jobs year-to-year.  The same TWC  press release that prompted the Statesman post reports that the Austin-Round Rock metro area employed  had 843,100 workers in November 2009.  Yes, total employment in our area is down 1/2 of 1% compared to November of last year.  Down is down, but where's the perspective?  How does that compare to previous recessions, or to other metros during the current recession?  And when we have been adding jobs month to month since August, why write a headline that says "job losses continue"?  It is simply false!

Almost as an afterthought, the Statesman noted that the Texas employers added jobs for the second month in November.  But no positive footnote for the paper's hometown!  There are plenty of real challenges in the U.S. economy these days.  I know that bad news sells newspapers, but I don't understand the only daily newspaper in town going out of its way to talk down the local economy!

Bill F. Morris, ABR, CRS, CDPE, e-PRO, MBA
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Comment balloon 1 commentBill Morris • December 18 2009 12:04PM


Sloppy headlines and overall bad journalism causes confusion.  No wonder the public doesn't trust what they read in the newspaper anymore and circulation is plummeting! 

Posted by Suzy Morris (The Morris Team) over 10 years ago