One of the debates here at GolfNewsNow.ca is what role the media plays in creating the sombre mood among the masses in this global economic downturn.
It’s understandable that some would believe that the constant barrage of bad economic news will lead to people squeezing their wallets tighter, which will only prolong these troubled times.
Still others believe that blaming the media is only shooting the messenger and that ignoring the meltdown of the stock markets, the softening housing market and fattening jobless numbers is only sticking your head in the sand.
There’s actually a certain amount of truth to each argument and while some say it’s irresponsible to bombard the masses with negative news, it would be more irresponsible to not report the economic factors that could affect their lives over the next year or so.
For the record, I’ve been predicting an economic downturn for over three years and have past columns to back that up. Peaks and valleys are part of the cycle, but even when the economy was good, I was accused of delivering a negative message, even if it wasn’t affecting consumer spending at the time.
Certainly, the economy has been a frequent topic of discussion since GNN was launched in September to address the issues and concerns of the Canadian golf industry. With GNN being an industry website, this focus on the economy will have little influence on consumer spending once golf shops open in the spring.
The focus on the economy is not exclusive to this side of the computer. Blame it on the media if you will, but readers are concerned with what’s happening as well, according to the many GNN polls we’ve conducted on our home page.
In a poll conducted in October, 35 per cent of respondents ranked the economy as golf’s story of the year in 2008, ahead of such topics as the high cost of fuel, the bad weather that affected the game in many parts of the country and the strong Canadian dollar.
In late November, only five per cent of respondents said they expected a banner year in 2009, while 55 per cent expected the same type of year as 2008. On the other hand, 40 per cent said they wanted to hide under the bed until 2010, which may find them crawling out into similar circumstances as when they went in.
While some economists expect the economy to start improving in 2009, the Canadian golf industry doesn’t agree, at least so far, in the current poll on the GNN home page.
A total of 48 per cent of respondents see things getting better in 2009, 26 per cent in the first half of the year and 22 per cent in the second half, but 43 per cent see tough times reaching into 2010, with nine per cent saying it will go beyond next year.
So, the golf industry in this country is digging in its heels for what it sees as a long patch of rough road ahead. Media is a reflection of its readers and to ignore their concerns would mean losing credibility.
Having said that, it’s important to look past the scary headlines and realize that you can’t shrink from the challenge. For one thing, the economic downturn will hit certain areas harder than others and some golf courses may stay flat, but not suffer a noticeable drop in business.
Research and study are required to figure out how the economy is affecting the local economy and members/clients. Also, aggressive marketing/public relations, assuming dollars are spent wisely, are important tools to draw golfers in tough times and to establish a course for when times start to get better.
The message the golf industry should be taking from economic news is that all is not lost, but that times have changed compared to what we’ve been used to in recent memory and that business practices need to adapt to those changes.
I can only speak for GNN, but we will stay on top of economic news and we will continue to get your take on what’s happening through comments you write at the end of each story and in the GNN poll on our home page.
Drop over to the poll to voice your opinion and feel free to go back in the archives to voice your opinion in previous polls, which are still active.