So Much for the ABC 'Recession' Talk

    The “Road to Recession” lost its way. The latest job numbers show an increase of 110,000 jobs in September and a revision of the August numbers from a loss of 4,000 to an increase of 89,000. That means there have now been 49 straight months of positive job growth.

     Only a month ago, ABC was declaring the August numbers a sign of “new fears this morning about the state of our economy,” said Bill Weir on September 8. That’s how he lead off a downbeat “Good Morning America” story entitled “Road to Recession? Bleak Signals from Job Report.”

     “And now many are asking whether the disappointing employment figures, coupled with the housing crisis, may head us, have us headed for a serious economic downturn or even recession,” worried Weir.

     Reporter Bianna Golodryga continued the theme: “The economy may be in worse shape than previously thought. And now the question is, was August's weak employment data just a one-time blip or a sign of possibly what's to come?” So much for the one-time blip. It was a zero-time blip.

    Still, Golodryga went on to explain it was the “worst jobs report in four years.” Then she introduced a mortgage broker who had lost his job. Although, she explained that the numbers were likely to be revised, as they always are, Golodryga still called it “a very shocking number.”

     The October 5 “American Morning” explained the latest job numbers in excellent detail. Business reporter Ali Velshi called it: “A big sigh of relief.” Not only were the new numbers better than the 100,000 expected, but the previous numbers were revised.

     “The other key point is, remember last month, John, we talked about a 4,000 job loss when we were expecting a hundred thousand jobs to be created,” Velshi continued. “The Bureau of Labor Statistics has now amended that. That is a common thing for them to do. They are now saying that 89,000 jobs were actually created in August. Not 4,000 jobs lost.”

     Velshi summed it up well: “So if you look at today's news it means that not only are things more positive in September, they were actually not as bad as we thought they were in August.”

     The networks have a bad history of distorting economic coverage of employment. Prior to the August numbers, in 47 straight months of job growth, the U.S. economy had created 8.3 million jobs. But despite that economic achievement, the media have consistently presented employment news and the overall economy negatively in the past four years.

     In a January 2006 study, The Business & Media Institute found ABC, CBS and NBC focused more on job losses in 2005, even though 2 million new jobs were added. The networks focused on job losses in slightly more than half the reports (76 out of 151). Just 35 percent of the stories addressed job gains (53 out of 151).