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Regaining My Perspective

Leave it to a 95-year-old institution to remind me of what should be every journalist's prime responsibility but is too often our largest failing: perspective. I headed to the Toronto Transportation C...


Leave it to a 95-year-old institution to remind me of what should be every journalist’s prime responsibility but is too often our largest failing: perspective. I headed to the Toronto Transportation Club’s annual Christmas dinner, eager to touch base with old acquaintances and make new contacts. Playing in my mind during the drive through Toronto rush hour were all the doom and gloom stories about the economy and our failed political system that I had listened to and reported on over the previous weeks.

It’s almost a bottomless pit;There are many words to describe the global conditions right now and they’re all four-letter words; This is the closest to the abyss we’ve come since the Great Depression – the words of the economic experts I had listened to kept rushing back to me. It would be good indeed to be touching base with so many key industry contacts. Their thoughts on just how bad this situation could get would be valuable background.

My old acquaintances had something different in mind, however.

From virtually the moment I walked in and started speaking with people I’ve known for almost two decades now I found they wanted to focus not on the negative, as has the mainstream media and, I must confess, myself as well of late, but on the many positive things that were still happening within their companies and the economy in general.

I spoke with people who were still enjoying great success serving certain sectors of the economy and certain regions of our country. I spoke with people who were downright proud of the innovations they had introduced to their transportation practices and the benefits they were recouping. I spoke to one respected gentleman who was having his best year in some time, and I’ve known about and followed his successful company long enough to know that’s saying something.

They all wanted to know the same thing. Why wasn’t the media reporting on all the good things still going on? Where was the perspective?

Loss of perspective, unfortunately, is something the media often fall prey to in the race to report on the latest and hottest issue. Today that issue of course is the faltering economy and there seems to be not enough pages printed to cover all that news reporters have to say about it. What often gets left behind, as my industry friends reminded me, are the stories that buck the trend by showing there are Canadian companies and individuals still holding their heads way above water.

That’s not right, nor is it good journalism. So to all the folks I spoke to at the recent TTC dinner, thanks for helping rebalance my perspective.And I would like to close with a quote from Mike McCarron of MSM Transportation, who was also at the TTC dinner. Mike said this to me last April when I was asking him about dealing with a freight recession. I consider them the wisest words I’ve heard all year:

“People get too caught up in the economic numbers,” Mike told me. “In a recession you get negative growth for at least two quarters but the reality is there is still tonnes of freight moving and you simply have to be better than your competitors to get it.”

– Lou Smyrlis can be reached by phone at (416) 510-6881 or by e-mail at lou@TransportationMedia.ca.


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