Journalists and recessions don’t get on well together.
Sooner or later, a downturn becomes an exercise in standing around, waiting for things to get better. The constant drip-drip-drip of negative news is problematic. And the ebbing away of economic activity means less novelty, fewer stories, a national life lived more slowly.
For most people, the downturn is only about two months old. But already, you can see that attitudes are getting a bit brittle in newsrooms. The search for a new angle is becoming neuralgic.
Editors get led down blind alleys under such circumstances. Take, for example, this afternoon’s front page splash on the Evening Standard: “Queen hit by credit crunch“.
Brenda, it seems, has been hit by the spiraling cost of maintaining her many royal residences. Oh, and there’s the doubling of Prince Andrew’s travel bill to £800,000 to take into account, too.
Under such circumstances, should we think of the Queen as a cost on the national P&L? Or as a consumer pressurized by rising costs like the rest of us?
Naturally, the Standard knows where it’s going with this one. The destination is visible in the simpering headline: “Rising costs and not enough cash. . . just like us, your Majesty.”
Almost certainly, a mountain goat with Alzheimer’s would cringe at the parallel. So far as I know, Brenda doesn’t have a mortgage to repay. Or a job to lose. Nor will she ever need to sit nervously in a plastic chair at the local Citizens Advice Bureau and discuss her credit card habit with a debt counsellor.
You could probably add a few differences to the list yourself. Lord knows, there were enough of them the last time I looked.
Trying on the old line that we’re in this together with Brenda and her brood is simply cack-handed. It won’t butter any turnips for Viscount Rothermere on the 5.15 from Charing Cross.