Dinner with friends last Friday took a depressing turn as we found it hard to talk about anything but the news of more layoffs in the field in which most of them work. No recent college grads were hired in any of their offices this year; friends with ten years of excellent performance reviews were summoned last week to conference rooms and were told to be gone within the hour.
Yesterday, an otherwise lively and loving conversation with members of the conservative branch of the family tree took a different sort of depressing turn when they mentioned that someone within their social circle had lost their house to foreclosure this week. They were stunned. “You hear about this happening, but we didn’t know anyone who was affected themselves”.
The media has made it easy to keep one’s head in the sand, according to a study released this weekend by Pew’s Project for Excellence in Journalism:
Pew found that almost 40 percent of economic news reports dealt with the trials of the banking and auto industries, and the federal stimulus bill passed in February. Unemployment and the housing crisis accounted for 12 percent. And, the study said, “stories that tried to explicitly examine the broader impact of the economic downturn on the lives of ordinary Americans filled 5 percent of the economic coverage.”
On Friday, my friends spoke of unemployment rates in their field approaching 40%. They spoke of young people just out of college who, having played by all the rules of the game through 16 years of schooling, are now likely permanently shut out of their chosen profession.
Yesterday, my relatives had finally encountered someone personally affected by the recession.
We are deeply segregated by social class, by ideology, and in my family members’ case, by age. The media is doing little to bridge these divides, finding it easier and cheaper to report on a few hundred people gathered to protest “socialized medicine” than to cover the thousands of people like my friends who have not yet figured out how they can possibly pay their own insurance premiums while living on unemployment.