Business Scene

Media reports of economic turmoil have a negative psychological impact on the public, despite calls not to panic by political leaders and economists.

MEDIA REPORTS of increasing economic turmoil, decreasing value of pension funds, the collapse of banks and spiraling unemployment have a negative psychological impact on the public, despite calls not to panic by political leaders and economists. Hoping to stem further losses in investments and savings, people all over the world are withdrawing money from banks and selling investments for whatever price they can get, thereby exacerbating the situation. Much as it pains me to point an accusing finger at my colleagues, I have to agree with those politicians and economists who say the media is not without blame in this period of economic crisis. Instead of simply reporting the facts, which in themselves are quite alarming, the media fuels the flames of fear with expressions such as Black October and economic "tsunami," and banner headlines about corporate losses, lost fortunes of billionaires and mass layoffs. That contributes to the chaos, sometimes making it worse than if the media had merely told the story without sensationalizing it. While not suggesting that the media practice self-censorship to the extent of suppressing the truth, there are different ways to present information. We do not need to hear the daily and nightly panic in Oded Shahar's voice, going at breakneck speed as he details dire economic news. Similarly, we do not have to hear Pe'erli Shahar or Razi Barka'i infusing dramatic cadences into their voices as they report or comment on fallout resulting from the economic crisis. There should be much more focus on positive things, such as the Fattal hotel chain offering 300 jobs to people who lost their jobs, or the demand that still exists all over the country for sales people and restaurant workers, not to mention positions that require more professional skills. The Situations Vacant columns in the Hebrew press are still plentiful, and employers are still calling into radio stations with job offers. We also have to remember that an economic crisis is often a prelude to prosperity. A little more reflection on the past might help to guide us toward the future with a greater sense of optimism. IT COMES as no surprise that Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni, Supreme Court President Dorit Beinisch, Arison Holdings chairperson Shari Arison, Leumi CEO Galia Maor and Strauss Group chairperson Ofra Strauss are ranked in the first five slots of the Forbes Israel list of the 50 most influential women. What is slightly surprising is to find Karnit Goldwasser, the widow of kidnapped soldier Udi Goldwasser, in eighth place, while her mother-in-law, Miki Goldwasser, who was No. 2 on Nahariya Mayor Jackie Sabag's list in last week's municipal elections, does not rate a mention, even though Miki, even more than Karnit, became a public figure after the Second Lebanon War. It's also interesting that Education Minister Yuli Tamir, who has been reviled in advertisements placed in the Hebrew media by one of teachers' unions, is No. 17, while Knesset Speaker Dalia Itzik is only No. 30. Despite the daily media reports that her father, Lev Leviev, is being dragged into the fiscal doldrums, Zvia Leviev Alazarov, CEO for Africa Israel's Mall Division, which is headed by her father, is No. 19, indicating that cash-flow problems notwithstanding, she's still a very powerful lady. Ruth Sheetrit, wife of Interior Minister Meir Sheetrit and a great success in her own right as the head of the Sheetrit Media Group, is No. 40. Channel 2 news presenter, anchorwoman and bilingual reporter Yoni Levy is No. 42. Although this is pretty low on a list of 50, considering the ever-growing number of female anchors and news presenters on radio and television, it's a great feather in her cap, especially since arch rival Miki Haimovich, whose place Levy took when Haimovich switched to Channel 10, did not make the list. Former broadcaster Shelly Yacimovich, who has been an MK for more than two years and has helped initiate numerous social-welfare bills, most of which were adopted by the Knesset, is No. 46. Netanya Mayor Miriam Feierberg and Herzliya Mayor Yael German are No. 47 and No. 48 respectively. The largest group in the list comprises executives in banking or other finance-oriented fields.