Over the last couple of weeks, I’ve been struck by a series of good news stories that have accidentally been reported as bad news stories. Here they are:
- Fewer new cars were registered on Britain’s roads this year.
- The supermarket chain Tesco has posted its lowest growth figures for 20 years.
- The British arms company BAE Systems is facing a wave of redundancies.
All of these were reported in the business section, in sombre journalism full of words like ‘disappointing numbers’, ‘weakness’, ‘lacklustre performance’. Why? Because things are supposed to grow. Companies are supposed to get bigger every year. Sales can only ever go up. Market share can only ever expand.
This is a problem, because if we actually follow through on that, it takes us to places we don’t want to go. “Healthy” end of year growth figures are celebrated, but is anybody pausing to ask what happens if those figures continue unquestioned, year after year?