This Is Your Captain Speaking
Step outside of our industry for a moment, stick your head outside of a window, and feel that cool, unrelenting breeze blowing in your face.
You're not alone. Recognize it?
It's called free-falling.
Read the entries on MediaPost, and you get the sense, on the surface, that we're looking for boundaries. Better metrics. Accuracy. Accountability.
Check out the pages of any newspaper or Web site, or snippets of your local news broadcasts, regardless of their "liens," and you'll hear about America's search for the same things.
Whom do we trust to tell us the truth? For that matter, what IS the truth?
The real question becomes even more foreboding: Do you really want to know?
My gut? We're not really looking for boundaries.
We're looking for a bottom.
I'm certain The Powers That Be will continue to find new ways to spin what's happening in a way that will support a "soft landing," all while insuring that TV ratings "hold up surprisingly well." After all, we all have a vested interest in insuring that this is believed by everybody with a checkbook.
Except what we're really sensing is that the ultimate checkbooks -- the ones on Main Street -- may indeed be full of checks, but tied to accounts with inadequate balances, held at banks that cumulatively might not be able to support the tsunami of ink they're being asked to absorb.
In difficult times, on the way down, you might be fortunate enough to become numb to the vertigo, and even begin to enjoy the ride. This is, after all, a rare opportunity to get your proverbial house in order.
One thing is for sure: There WILL be a bottom. Much like Charlton Heston's first step out of the capsule, into a strange, barren, yet hauntingly familiar landscape, we will one day get back on firm footing, get our bearings, and get back to the business of business.
Until then, though, while you're buckling up and bracing for that splash in the Hudson, let's recognize that we each played a role in the flight plan. Each one of us put ourselves first, more than once, somewhere along the way to the terminal.
Whether it's inflated home prices, share prices, or ratings, who among us hasn't winked once to an accomplice and nudged them, thinking, "Can you believe this?"
Now, you might want to place your tray table in its full and upright position.