Media: Media Watch - Billions well spent on Y2K resulted in ’non-event’

The apocalyptic doom expected to be caused by malfunctioning computers at the change of the millennium now appears laughable, and in the early days of the new year, the media hashed out ideas about why there were no Y2K-related catastrophes.

The apocalyptic doom expected to be caused by malfunctioning computers at the change of the millennium now appears laughable, and in the early days of the new year, the media hashed out ideas about why there were no Y2K-related catastrophes.

The apocalyptic doom expected to be caused by malfunctioning

computers at the change of the millennium now appears laughable, and in

the early days of the new year, the media hashed out ideas about why

there were no Y2K-related catastrophes.



Sifting through hundreds of headlines on the Y2K ’non-event’ that

appeared from coast-to-coast during the first days of January, CARMA

reviewed a sample of articles from prominent newspapers to investigate

the coverage of the smooth millennial transition.



The most frequent assessment conveyed was that the non-event was the

result of the sheer volume of money spent in preparation of the date

rollover. Estimates of US expenditures ranged from dollars 100 billion

to dollars 150 billion, while worldwide investments were said to be

between dollars 255 billion and dollars 800 billion (San Jose Mercury

News, January 3). According to media reports, this staggering investment

made the difference between ’just another day’ and the apocalypse that

doomsayers predicted. President Bill Clinton’s chief Y2K advisor, John

Koskinen, said, ’The extensive time, effort and work devoted to this

problem ... resulted in the fact that while there are still glitches

around the edges, the systems are running well and we have made a

successful transition’ (Boston Globe, January 4).



Despite the financial resources invested and the lack of spectacular and

dramatic Y2K-related disasters, an element of caution was aired in the

media throughout the early days of the new year. Numerous reports

suggested that the full impact of Y2K was yet to be felt. Some warned

that smaller glitches will be noticed throughout the year, while some

focused on 2000’s leap-year date, February 29, as the next big test.



Moreover,, there were also several articles that discussed the long-term

benefits that America will enjoy as a result of the widespread

investments in new Y2K-compliant technology. Several business leaders

said that fears of a Y2K-spawned technological disaster prompted them to

make technology investments and upgrades, thereby making their companies

more productive.



’The Y2K scare has compelled phone companies, banks, manufacturers and

other businesses around the world to make their corporate nervous

systems more efficient and easier to run,’ the San Antonio Express-News

(January 4) reported.



Among the initial coverage, there were more reports that the Y2K

investments were well spent than criticism that the US had overreacted

and overspent.



Judging from the sample coverage, there were few people who believed

there was never any Y2K bug at all. Likewise, people who felt duped by

the media hype surrounding Y2K were also in the minority.



An editorial in the Rocky Mountain News (January 4) concluded that the

Y2K episode should stand as ’an example of international cooperation on

a global problem, the efficiency of a motivated private sector

and ... effective use of government.’ Now that the Y2K bug appears

squashed once and for all, it seems that America can attribute its

success to erring on the side of caution.



- Evaluation and analysis by CARMA International. Media Watch can be

found at www.carma.com.



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