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
’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
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.