Rob Jenkins - 04/03/09
Depressed over economy? You're in the right place

If you're wondering where to invest your money in these dark economic times - assuming you have any to invest - you might want to consider drug companies that market anti-depressants. Unlike banking and automobile manufacturing, depression is a growth industry these days.

Even I, normally a cheery and optimistic soul, have been feeling infected lately. And I've come to the conclusion that it's not the economy or the other bad things happening in the world that are to blame, but rather the round-the-clock coverage of them.

After all, it's kind of hard to be optimistic when you're reminded constantly, via radio, television and newspaper, that in reality life stinks.

An example from earlier this week should illustrate my point. It was Monday morning, in fact, and although Mondays tend to be inherently depressing, this one was an exception because it was our first sunny day in a long while. Or at least it was an exception until I heard the following on my car radio:

"It's a beautiful day outside today! And do you know who really loves this kind of weather? Termites!"

So there I am driving along, enjoying the sunshine, feeling good about life - only to be brought back down to earth with a jolt. The truth, it seems, is that termites are eating my house.

OK, my fault for listening to the radio. But it's virtually the same wherever I turn: television, magazines, newspapers. In fact, I think newspapers are the worst when it comes to reveling in bad news, and I'm convinced that's the reason they're fast becoming extinct. (This newspaper, of course, being the exception that proves the rule.)

Don't believe for a moment that the demise of newspapers is due to technology. Most papers have had an Internet presence for years. The real problem is that their Web sites offer the same headlines as their print editions, and people simply find those headlines depressing.

Here, for instance, are a few lead stories from some of the nation's major print newspapers over the past week:

"Obama, Medved Launch Nuclear Talks"

"Hiring Freeze Takes Cops Off the Street"

"North Korea Threatens to Shoot Down Spy Planes"

"Man Falls to Death from Opera House"

"Utility Customers in Arrears Face Loss of Service"

"Suspected Gang Member Fatally Shot"

Let's face it, those are all pretty depressing, except maybe the last one. Meanwhile, during the same week, Yahoo! And MSN.com were sporting headlines like these:

"Idol Sings after Losing Family Member"

"Timberlake's Time-out"

"Lemon Cola Becomes Holy Water in Baptism"

"What to Wear This Spring"

"Birds Sneak Phone into Jail"

So I think you see where I'm headed with this. In order to regain popularity, newspapers have to cool it on the hard news and start leading with mindless fluff.

In other words, they should all put my column on the front page.