As we stumble into the last year of the century’s first decade, we’re all a bit woozy from the battering administered by the threadbare economy, snowballing public scandals and NBC’s abandonment of 10 p.m. dramas. Still, things are looking up considerably compared with last year at this time, and certainly the past year has offered no shortage of subject matter for communicators of all stripes. So we have some basis for optimism as we approach 2010.
We will (we hope) be writing about the flipside of the economy as housing, retail and 401(k) funds surge toward recovery. Enough scandals already remain in play to consume our hard drives for at least another year of writing about Tiger Woods, Mark Sanford and the everlasting Kwame Kilpatrick. TV will get better and worse, with home 3D capabilities and more HD channels but less worth watching. We will rejoice in the emergence of Glee and the humanizing of Criminal Minds, while we mourn the loss of Monk—perhaps counterbalanced by the loss of Lou Dobbs.
What should communicators expect to be writing about as the year turns? Here are a few thoughts on what will be occupying our minds and fingertips:
• Climate change will become a more urgent story following the Copenhagen conference and new push in the U.S. to limit greenhouse gases.
• Health care reform will change from a story about harsh tensions and debate to one, surprisingly, about health care, as we explore how its provisions will alter our thinking about who and how we treat for illness and prevention.
• More economic stimulus will be coming and we’ll be a bit more united in accepting it because it will be focused more on job creation and supporting the unemployed than on salvaging banks and corporations.
• Electric cars will become the rage as the Chevy Volt is introduced and automakers around the world prepare to throw the switch on their own electric fleets.
• The 2010 Senate and House election coverage will take on proportions of a Presidential year as media seek to predict if the Democrat majority will preserve its power or if President Obama will suddenly find himself confronting an opposition Congress.
• As always, scandals will erupt and dominate our TV screens and home pages. Anticipate much deeper probing by the media into the backgrounds of elected and appointed officials, as well as entertainment personalities, before they become rock stars to uncover scandal-worthy information.
• More news publications will fold and more journalists will be flipping burgers, but online cooperatives developed by serious investigative reporters will become more prominent. These groups will syndicate more of their investigative stories to online media. We are in the middle of a major transformation of media from print to digital online publication, but the journalistic spirit is as intense as ever.
• Finally, we will likely stop writing about Jon and Kate, Bret Favre, Michael Jackson and a few dozen other personalities who should just calmly fade away from the headlines.