Seasonal adjustments

In the spirit of the recent and highly learned Irish Times leader about the difference between “uncertainty” and “risk”, I will admit that I am “uncertain” about addressing the media coverage of the August stock-market volatility due to the “risk” that the crisis will have passed by the time you read this.


Monthly magazine production schedules, and the publications' interminable shelf time, provide ample opportunities for events to trip up contributors, especially those of us who have previously strutted to the rhythms of the daily or weekly grind. When the Irish Times first editorialised about the market hiccups on 3 August, it could write, “this modest market correction should not, as yet, give too much cause for investor concern”, in the certain knowledge that those words would be deep down in the green recycling bin by the time circumstances were in a position to contradict them. The editorial writers could wait a full fortnight to return to the topic with more alarm, without referring to their previous sanguinity or facing any wrath from investors who had skipped off on their holidays without “too much cause for concern”.

Indeed, the very fact of the August timing of the equity jitters meant that some news organisations weren't really geared up for a big business story, and neither covered it nor explained it terribly well. On RTÉ, obsessive and repetitive with the Aer Lingus issue, the excellent Christopher McKevitt – who tends to cover business like a journalist rather than a booster – cut a lonely figure, when he was there at all. Over on the TV business channels you could see the summertime B-team presenters getting a real thrill from their unexpected boost in importance and ratings, and some of their “experts” were literally phoning-in their thoughts from Long Island beach houses.