Quality Magazine

From the Publisher: Get the Story Correct

August 1, 2006

It's not surprising that the mainstream media misses the story when it comes to manufacturing. This happened again when they reported on U.S. factory orders for May 2006.

Factory orders increased 0.7% for May 2006. This number exceeded the 0.1% increase analysts had projected. Where did the mainstream media go wrong in this good news? After reporting the gain, the media spent the majority of their time and space reporting how poorly durable goods manufacturing performed.

Orders for durable goods were reported to decrease 0.2% because of transportation orders. The media spent its time and ink citing the decrease in automotive sales of Ford, General Motors and DaimlerChrysler for May. Not satisfied with that, they also focused on a drop in orders for Boeing for the same time period.

This is what happens when large news organizations employ reporters who don't know manufacturing. They can't differentiate among the different aspects of manufacturing. To them, assembling a finished automobile is the same as making the parts that go in that car, or plane or medical device.

The mainstream media did manage to report the good manufacturing news, however, most of them buried it the end of their stories, further demonstrating they don't understand its significance. Orders for primary metals rose 4.6% and machinery orders increased 2.5% during May.

These increases are great news for manufacturing and for quality. As more metal and machinery is purchased, more parts are made. As more parts are made, they need to be measured, tested and inspected, which drives demand for quality equipment, software and services. These parts will be built, because unfilled orders were up 0.6% for May and at the same time inventories fell.

Why does the mainstream media have such

difficulty when it comes to manufacturing? Understanding manufacturing is much more difficult than understanding Wal-Mart and Home Depot. Manufacturing is more complicated, and to the general public, less "sexy." As manufacturers experience difficulty in finding qualified people to build the products, it's even more difficult to find journalists who understand it well enough to explain it to the general public in a two-minute news spot.

The mainstream media also is mired in the bad news it has reported in the past. For many years they reported on legitimate manufacturing decreases, so much so that the idea of "a poor manufacturing base in the United States" has taken root and has a life of its own that colors every manufacturing story they report.

What can be done to ensure that the good news isn't missed, and the reality of positive manufacturing news is reported? Begin the education at home. Make sure your family, friends and neighbors know the whole story, as only one who lives it can convey. Write to your local media outlets when you see the good news buried and tell them so. Finally, keep Quality Magazine as your trusted source for information as we continue to report on the outlook for quality and manufacturing-maybe we'll even start sending some issues to the mainstream media and help them get the story correct.