Economic Growth Report
Gets a Few Paragraphs
Papers call strong GDP ‘weaker than
expected,’ hide news in briefs.
By Amy Menefee
Free Market Project
Dec. 22, 2005
Â Â Â Â In
newspapers, placement is everything. Put a story on the front page
above the fold, and everyone can see it as they walk by the
newsstand. But hide it deep in the nether-sections, and only Grandpa
will find it – if he sips his coffee slowly enough. Unfortunately,
it’s often the bad news that gets the prime spot, while good news
takes the back seat.
Â Â Â Â The New York Times warned against economic optimism
from its front page on November 30: “By most measures, the economy
appears to be doing fine. No, scratch that, it appears to be
booming. But as always with the United States economy, it is not
quite that simple.” Times writer Vikas Bajaj went on to say that
“for every encouraging sign, there is an explanation” and “many
economists do not expect the party to continue.” And that was in a
story covering the positives in the economy, including cheaper
gasoline, rising consumer confidence, a healthy stock market and
strong home sales.
Â Â Â Â In contrast with that stern parade-raining article, the
glad tidings that the “Economy Grew at a Quick Pace In Summer
Despite Hurricanes” were relegated to the bottom corner of page C-11
in the December 22 Times. This perky little Associated Press missive
announced the Gross Domestic Product’s 4.1-percent third-quarter
growth, declaring it was “the fastest pace since early 2004” and
“the gain was even more remarkable considering the devastating
hurricanes and gasoline prices that topped $3 a gallon.”
Â Â Â Â Indeed.
Â Â Â Â As the Free Market Project has mentioned, almost half
of Americans think the economy is in a recession, though that’s far
from the truth. GDP – the main measurement of the country’s economic
health – grew at a strong 4.1 percent in the third quarter. But
that’s a bit lower than earlier government predictions, and the
media do love to jump on predictions. Instead of lauding growth, a
few of the major newspapers took the opportunity to downplay it.
Â Â Â Â In addition to the Times’ C-11 corner, other papers’
December 22 offerings:
The Washington Post: “U.S. Growth Rate Climbs,” one-paragraph
brief on page D-2; and a mention in a brief stock report on
USA Today: “Economy’s Growth Weaker Than Expected,” one
paragraph on page B-1.