Needless to say (but I will), it was a relief to read today’s headline on MSNBC.com: “Recession Ends in 79 Metros.” An index compiled by the news outlet and Moody’s Economy.com showed that the recession ended in August for one of every five metro areas in the United States. That was the first month this year that any metro area moved from recession to the “recovery” category.
By their very nature, media define news as occurrences that are out of the ordinary; so, while it’s nice to know that we may be treated to a regular diet of positive economic stories in the weeks and months ahead, it’s a little frustrating to receive validation that the “good news” is what’s unusual these days.
The ramifications of that fact, however, may pick us all up a notch or three. Instead of constant doom-and-gloom headlines on news home pages, we’ll be reading turnaround stories and comeback sagas, which may finally drown the frowns and dial an occasional smile on the faces of those who have been so wounded by this recession.
For their part, communicators need to be careful not to overstay their now-two-year-long visit to the muck of the economic downturn but to realize that new news is good news and get in front of the tide of positive stories that may be coming our way.
Here are a few areas that we should be preparing to explore as the well-known new reality becomes the next-new-reality:
- The impact that health care reform is having on each and all segments of our nation, now that legislation is likely to pass within the next 60 days. Are more people living better and longer lives?
- The strong emergence and potential dominance of smart, technology-boosted start-up companies that are built for a recovering nation. Many manufacturers already have geared up for a clean and green future and are likely to rise to the top rapidly as the economy recovers, while online companies have learned the value of virtual relationships and will build an even broader base for their growth.
- The dwindling distinction between “media” and “social media” as blogs, social networks, comment sections of news sites and crowd-generated stories become the trusted, word-of-mouth methodology for communicating news. Some online pundits already are noting the decline of e-mail and RSS feeds, since they can be replaced with faster and more readily responsive social sites from Facebook to Twitter to Yammer.
- Of course, newspapers themselves. As the economy improves, will the fortunes of print editions do the same? Not likely—their collapse is due more to technology than the economy. Instead, watch for respected—and now jobless—journalists forming more collective Web sites where they will publish their investigative feature articles. Their reports will reach us more quickly because more of us will be carrying our news, newscasts, and news contributions with us on our mobile phones and in our netbooks.
- The return of entertainment in exciting new forms. After cutting back during the recession, Americans will want to be cutting up during the recovery—without the lavish spending that got them into trouble way back 24 months ago. We should be watching for the impact of 3D television, coming to homes in 2010. At the same time, Americans will be viewing much more of their video entertainment on mobile phones and a perplexity of apps to keep them occupied. And don’t neglect one quietly building travel and entertainment trend: on-site meet-ups of social media communities. They are evolving into regional high-school reunions (everyone in your Cincinnati graduating class who now lives in the Southeast) and social sub-networks.
So there’s the challenge, communicators. A good-news world is coming—deal with it.