There is no time for despair

You're can't attend any gathering these days - dinner party, conference or bus shelter - without hearing the Fourth Estate receive a good kicking. I attended a conference last month at which the media took a savage shoeing from a senior ad man for being such a bunch of Cassandras and resolutely ignoring all those green shoots of recovery that we see springing out everywhere through the frozen lawns.

by Matthew Gwyther, MT editor

The subject of our profile this month, the serial entrepreneur and C4 chairman Luke Johnson, is not only a leading member of the business community but also a part-time, and accomplished, member of the media via his weekly FT column. As someone with a foot in both camps, he's well placed to make a useful prognosis for the UK economy. 'It's really tough out there,' he told me. 'I suppose the real fear is that this downturn is not cyclical but structural and, if that's the case, what are the permanent changes to our standard of living that we'd better get used to? I can't predict the future, but if the sort of struggle that so many firms and individuals are now facing is the new "normal", that's quite scary.' Yet, like any true entrepreneur, he's an optimist and admits he's on the lookout for bargains.

We, too, think it's scary but not a time for despair. That's why, while keeping a lookout for those green shoots, we'll try to keep your spirits up with sound advice. Our Brainfood section in particular is now focused on practical tips and suggestions to help ease the pain until the upturn. And next month, in a special edition, we'll be bringing help from those grey-haired members of the business community who have been through - and survived - serious downturn before. We're thinking of calling it the 'Are You Experienced?' issue.

One subject on which the media went into a frenzy of fear-creation nearly a decade ago was genetically modified food. In possibly its finest hour since it accused Labour in the 1920s of being funded by the Soviets, the Daily Mail ran headlines suggesting that GM not only threatened our mental health but would harm Britain's unborn babies. We think it's time for a GM rethink, as our feature proposes, not least because we can longer afford the alternative. Organics look more and more like an inefficient bourgeois fad.

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