Such stories have been commonplace since Obama grimly strode into an auditorium in the White House last week, stood in front of a carefully staged backdrop of uniformed first responders and condemned congressional Republicans for taking a “meat cleaver” approach to budget cuts.

“Are you willing to see a bunch of first responders lose their jobs because you want to protect a special interest tax loophole? Are you willing to have teachers laid off?” he asked.

As Obama expected, his words of woe were broadcast, printed and blogged, warning that these cuts must be avoided at all costs or the world as we know it will end.

Of course the cuts will have an impact on people employed by the government or dependent on government programs. However, journalists must be aware that claims of disaster are a decades-old cliché used by politicians intent on stopping budget cuts as much as by conscientious officials giving the public information it needs to know. Skepticism in the original reports is just as important as follow-up a week later.