I guess you could consider this a continuation of my video from yesterday about media shaming. Today, though, I want to focus specifically on the “good” news/”bad” news dichotomy and how it doesn’t really exist. That’s right. The good journalists of the world are not going out with the intention of finding a headline that drips blood to splatter across their front pages and top of the hour teasers. It simply isn’t done. So why is it that people still have the gall to ask me why there is only bad news?
The fact of the matter is that journalists aren’t the murderous, corrupt and hateful people that people are complaining about when they see “bad” news. The journalists are simply the people sharing the story with you, informing you about the world around you so you don’t have to be ignorant. If you want to blame somebody for the amount of “bad” news you come across in the course of the day, blame society. That’s right. The society you live in is the problem. It’s full of people killing people and causing pain and injustice. So, if you have a problem with the amount of “bad” news there is, stop trying to take out the messengers. Go do something about it yourself.
Now, journalism is a business. It needs funding to survive. This means it has to play the same games any other business does. Without readers and viewers, advertisers don’t want to pay for ad space. Without the money from ads, most news organizations lose almost all of their income. Without that income, there is no news. You may not like seeing stories about people suffering, but you read them, remember them and want updates on them as they develop. It’s addictive. We as people love “bad” news in a way. We crave stories of violence. We devour articles about war and disasters. We are addicted to seeing others in pain. In a way, it reminds us that our lives could be much worse. As much as some people complain about seeing only this negative things, they need it.
Not only does it make for good business, but it makes for change. Journalists want you to read about corruption and injustice. They want you to get angry. They want you to feel indignant. It’s seems crazy, but really it’s an opportunity to get you so bothered that you stand up and do something about it. “Bad” news spurs change. As much as we hate it, we need it.
You need to understand that no reporter walks into a newsroom and thinks, “boy, I sure hope somebody gets killed today. Maybe, if we’re lucky, it’ll be a kid. A talented one with a bright future. Wouldn’t it be great if that kid killed themselves. Golly gee, if we could land some news like that, today would be great.” It just doesn’t happen. I think I speak on behalf of all journalists when I say I would happily stand in the unemployment line because I ran out of bad things to report. Despite this, when news rolls across our desks saying that people were killed in their church by a man with a weapon and a profound hate, it needs to be reported. We as people need to see these terrible things and be stirred to act on them or out against them. Without this kind of information, nothing would change.
In terms of the lack of “good” news, I’d like to point to the lack of basic comprehension. There is “good” news everywhere. Couples are celebrating 72 years of marriage. Monks are walking across the country for peace. Soldiers are coming home from war. Sports teams are winning championships. Honestly, the world is a darn beautiful place. People just don’t see it. They turn on this selective perception that says hard news is the only kind of news, and the aforementioned stories are just fluff. That’s why they don’t see “good” news. In their minds, “good” news is impossible.
The news doesn’t need to change nearly as much as people’s perceptions of it. Yes there is “bad” news. Terrible things happen every day, sometimes to wonderful people. The fact of the matter, though, is that reporters aren’t the ones making these things happen. They also aren’t making it up for clicks. (I understand that sometimes both of those last statements are false, but for the sake of my argument, we will assume not every reporter is a bad person. Because they aren’t.) “Good” news is abundant, but it needs to be treated with the same respect and attention that the “bad” news is getting. Trust me when I say that if you demand it, you will receive it. Headlines about boys growing their hair out to donate to children with cancer will start running top of fold and top of the hour. Editors and producers aren’t stupid. They cater to you.
Basically, what it comes down to is that there is a vicious cycle of “bad” news, where people cause it, report on it, read it and repeat. If that doesn’t suit your mood, don’t complain about the journalism. Stand up to the society causing it. “Good” news has always been around in large quantities. It simply has never gotten the attention it deserves. If you can start to spend more time looking for the “good” news, you’ll find it. I know I can only speak for myself, but I really do think this is a problem of perception. No matter what though, I can say that if I convince one person to reconsider how they look at the media, I’d have some pretty great news on my hands.