Positive news. Many in the news business would call that an oxymoron. The phrase was stuck in my brain as I walked about the Lakeside Building of McCormick Place during the recent Plastics USA show.
The people I talked to wanted positive news. It wasn't the first time I've heard the comment, certainly. But it is the first time I've chosen to opine on it. So they want to hear that business is up, capacity utilization rates are increasing, and that may mean more machinery purchases are only a few orders away. That may be the case, but unless officials are willing to talk about it with the reporter, then she's got nothing.
At Plastics News, we don't have a crystal ball. We're not the rainmakers. We are mere industry observers, watching from the sidelines as economic forces and other elements combine to make the plastics industry run every day, every month, every year. We can see the clouds, but we don't have control over the forces that create them. We can question, we can observe, but we don't hold the strings that make the dolls dance.
I'm sure many readers recognize that Plastics News takes a markedly different editorial position than those trade publications that choose to play industry cheerleader. I don't write this to blow our own horn, nor do I wish to sound like a broken record. But sometimes the facts need to be reinforced. What we strive to bring to you on a weekly basis in print and daily through PlasticsNews.com is the news that impacts your business - good or bad.
In a conversation with one source at Plastics USA, I said, ``If all we reported was `positive news,' then how would you react?'' Call it a hunch, but I suspect the complaint would then be that Plastics News wasn't doing its job.
My Plastics USA experience took me back to the days at my college newspaper, when several officials on campus petitioned our student-run daily to have one day per week where we reported nothing but ``positive'' news. They claimed the mood on campus was getting down, with all the negative news. If the newspaper would agree to report only positive news at least one day per week, then the mood would get so much better, they contended.
Would that change the fact the tuition was going up? How would the students react when the paper they depended on every day found a way to spin reality to assuage officials?
A journalist knows spin is not the way to conduct his or her business. For instance, was there really a ``positive'' way to tell our 60,000 subscribers that Rubbermaid Inc. was shutting its landmark Wooster, Ohio, facility? If we had ignored it, would it not have happened?
As we've reported the stories on business going to China, we've also brought the angle that opportunity exists there as well, and we've documented efforts by companies here to find new and better ways to compete globally. There are at least two sides to every story, multiple perspectives, and we hope that the information we provide helps you make informed business decisions. That's our mission. And in the end, we're all better for it.
Angie DeRosa is a Columbus, Ohio-based staff reporter for Plastics News.