College Media

The economy: Localize the biggest story of your generation

The western (front) side of the United States ...Image via WikipediaI don’t often post about particular story ideas, because that’s a fertile ground elsewhere. But college students who haven’t been paying attention to the economic news (are there many who do?) over the last week or so need to be put in the loop. The collapse of the financial markets and the subsequent socialization of two giant mortgage firms and an insurance firm, along with a new government-backed bailout, is HUGE news for people who are just entering the workforce. It is the biggest story of your generation so far (arguably bigger than the Iraq war, even).

This economic crisis is going to cost the taxpayers of the United States billions of dollars and result in untold hardships.

It will be interesting to see who can cover this story adequately. Most every campus has highly trained economics professors. Who can make the topic understandable to students?

And I’m not talking editorials and columns. I mean straight business reporting. Check out this Iowa State Daily article for a sample of how someone is doing it in a hard-news way. Also, this from the Utah Chronicle, and this from the Florida Alligator. But so far all of these stories focus on the immediate impact on students: jobs. There are much larger issues (like the fact that the U.S. taxpayer basically bought A.I.G., adding to a huge national debt that will have to be paid by working stiffs like you and your children and your children’s children’s children.)

And as much as such stories (see this UWire search for a sample of related content over the past week) are important, graphics and rich content are also important to help students understand just what’s at stake. Here’s a sample of an explanatory graphic (really simple, actually) from the NY Times.

For a sample of how the story can be told in another format, I recommend This American Life’s “The Giant Pool of Money” to explain the mortgage crisis.

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