The Co-Intelligence Institute // CII home // Y2K home

Y2K Spin



Date: Wed, 24 Mar 1999
From: Bill Dale Subject: More on y2k journalism...

Spin can work more than one way. I just came across and noticed this. Y2K Alert's daily update. Here's the content of the "teaser copy" email (to get me to the site).

Subject: Y2K Alert - 3/24/1999 - $58 million food stamps error leaves shelves bare

* Today's news capsule * Y2K glitch sends food stamp recipients on $30 - $58 million spending spree

Find it all at:

~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~
"Hmmmmmmmmmmmmm," I said to myself and popped the URL into my browser. I landed on the page that had this at the top. Highlights of what they thought were the day's major stories.
~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~

The Y2KNEWSWIRE.COM Daily Report Daily Y2K news and analysis, free of charge.

3/24/1999 - Y2K glitch sends food stamp recipients on $58 million spending spree


Yesterday, the bill for a small business loan program passed the House. The bill, which passed unanimously, will allow the SBA to guarantee $500 million to small businesses trying to deal with the Y2K bug. Each business will be able to receive up to $1 million and the loans will be provided by private financial institutions.

The Department of Defense stated that their payroll computers are compliant...<snip>

Some welfare recipients in New Jersey got a welcome surprise Monday due to a Y2K computer glitch...<snip>

The Fed has said that it will allow merging banks to delay the integration of their check processing systems until after 2000... <snip>
~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~
Following those one paragraph summaries (with no URLs included) came the page-long feature story of the food stamp snafu. Nothing wrong with that, but I left that top paragraph intact (about the small business bill) to make the point which is - the passage of that bill is a fairly big deal. Especially for small business people who want to get their y2k houses in order but can't afford it. But instead of supplying any detail or guidance to any small business person who might be interested, the big story, the journalistic focus, the brain-filler, is hammered right on down to the welfare testing glitch. More evidence that we are in bad shape.

Now. It's not that that story shouldn't have been featured, and it's good that Y2K Alert mentioned the passage of that bill at all. The point is that when it comes to "spin" of overall "slant," there's no shortage of it when it comes to the dire side of the equation. And, in the case of that bill, anyway, often a big lack of attention placed on things that might help.

This small business bill (which passed the senate 99-0) has been interesting. I happened to hear it mentioned on NBC news in the same story that announced the release of the Bennett/Dodd report on March 2nd. It stuck in my head. I waited the next day to see if anything popped up from anywhere on it. Nothing did. All the focus was on the report. So the last thing I did that night before shutting the machine off was go to, and fish it out. It's an interesting bill, to say the least. But still, no mention of it from anywhere then or since until Y2K Alert today (that I've noticed, anyway). Countless messages about the senate report and people's interpretation of the spin on that thing, what it all really meant, how it proved or disproved how bad off we are, but no mention from anywhere of something significant that could help that whopping percentage of complacent, or cash-strapped small businesses get their systems straightened out. (And was there anyone who didn't read about the surveys that about was a mess and bound for failure small business was when they came out a few months ago?)

I tracked the bill (S. 314 - at that site, if anyone's interested). It got referred back to the house small business committee, kicked around with a little testimony, blahblah, and then passed into law either today or yesterday (pending Clinton's signature). The SBA now has 30 days to figure out how to administer the it, get things set up with the banks, etc., but around the end of April there's going to be a lot of pretty easy financial help available for small business.

But the point here is things like that hardly ever gets mentioned when it comes to a lot of the y2k reporting most of us see - no matter where it comes from. The focus - whether that's on sites, searching, or reporting - always seems to be on the next actual, probable, or possible problem, or on people's interpretations of whatever's in the news.

Or, as they say in Polyannaville, 80% problems/20% (if that) possible solutions. And, of course, any potential solutions or potentially "good news" are often quickly dispensed back to Denialville. Probably like this small business bill would be. "Why bother? If they haven't started by now, they're toast. And besides. Without power, they might as well just close their doors now and dig a hole."

But I'll send the press release along anyway in a minute...




Info on S 314