Tell me again why no one respects the press? : LUSENET : TimeBomb 2000 (Y2000) : One Thread

After the speech President Clinton made regarding Y2K last week, I sent a letter to the Readers Forum page of the Louisville Courier-Journal asking why the newspaper had given it so little attention. My letter wasnt printed, and I finally called to ask why. I was told that they didnt respond to people wondering why their letters werent printed. Here is my letter: Having heard that President Clinton was planning to speak about the Year 2000 computer bug, often referred to as Y2K, I was eager to read what he had to say about this potentially serious problem. What a disappointment it was to see a mere nine column inches about the speech he made to the National Academy of Sciences on July 14. The reporter not only excessively summarized a three thousand word speech, he glossed over the most important part of the message. I got the impression that the main thrust of the Presidents speech was something about a new Good Samaritan law that will encourage businesses to share information. Even the headline, "Clinton acts to ease 2000 computer crisis," seemed calculated to prevent readers from taking the subject too seriously. I had never looked at the official White House web site (, but I decided that I would see if the full text of the speech was there. It was, and I discovered that the summary that appeared in the Courier-Journal bore little resemblance to the speech President Clinton gave. The topic should have merited enough space in the paper for the entire text to be printed, but since it didnt, I would like to offer a few excerpts here: "It could affect electric power, phone service, air travel, major governmental service. ... With millions of hours needed to rewrite billions of lines of code this is clearly one of the most complex management challenges in history.  HCFA, which runs Medicare, processes almost 1 billion transactions a year. Its computer vendors must painstakingly renovate 42 million lines of computer code. All told, the worldwide cost will run into the tens, perhaps the hundreds of billions of dollars, and that's the cost of fixing the problem, not the cost if something actually goes wrong. We know first we [the government] have to put our own house in order, to make certain that government will be able to continue to guard our borders, guide air traffic, send out Social Security and Medicare checks, and fulfill our other duties. But not every agency is as far along as it should be. By far the most significant potential risks fall in the private sector. Large firms already have spent hundreds of millions of dollars to make sure their systems are ready.  But let me say, in spite of all this progress, in the business sector just as in the government sector, there are still gaping holes. Far too many businesses, especially small- and medium-sized firms, will not be ready unless they begin to act. A recent Wells Fargo bank survey shows that of the small businesses that even know about the problem, roughly half intend to do nothing about it. . This is very important. It is important that we act and not be in denial." Why is it that a presidential speech about "one of the most complex management challenges in history" that "could affect electric power, phone service, air travel, [and] major governmental service" is not worth printing in its entirety? If the millennium computer problem is as bad as many experts fear it will be, the public is going to be angry because no one warned them it was coming. My advice to the public is this: Inform yourself about Y2K. Dont depend on the popular press to tell you what you need to know. Teresa Fisher 47130

-- Teresa Fisher (, July 24, 1998


Teresa, I wanted to commend you for trying to get some press coverage for the problem. It's really disheartening when you have made an effort like that and received nothing but rejection in return! But I hope that you'll keep trying.

Dr. Ed Yardeni just declared August 19 "Global Y2K Action Day" (See link below, and scroll down 'til you find it.) I used quotes from his page as the basis for a letter I wrote to the executive editor of my county newspaper, urging him to use this day (500 days til 2000) to begin covering local issues and encouraging community-level action. I named several areas citizens needed information about--"How dependable is our power supply? How about heating oil and gas distribution? What about our water and sewage systems? Our telephones? Our hospitals? Our emergency services? What about the nuclear plant? Is our airport compliant? Our law enforcement services? Our banks? There's much we need to know!" I gave a brief argument about why it's more dangerous to be silent on the issue than it is to risk alarming people. And I said I believed that his paper may never have had such a profound responsibility to its readers than it has concerning this issue. Whether my letter will produce any more response than yours did, time will only tell. But again, I think it's crucially important to keep trying. If you, or anyone, wants a copy of my letter to use as a sample, to get your paper to recognize "Global Y2K Action Day," please feel free to email me.

Global Y2K Action Day:


-- Faith Weaver (, July 24, 1998.

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