Is Good News Underrated?
January 18, 2012
January 18, 2012
The daily “News,” as it is reported on network and cable TV programs and in major print media outlets, focuses almost entirely on governmental crises, armed conflicts, violence in our cities, natural disasters, and heartbreaking stories of every kind. This barrage of “bad news” is often delivered with visceral intensity, leaving viewers and readers coping with a range of negative feelings from anger and cynicism to helplessness and despair.
A man I know was determined to stop watching or reading the news because he said it made him feel helpless and despondent. A friend of his challenged him saying, “There’s an invitation in the News asking for you to respond to an issue as a participant in repairing the world.” His friend’s challenge proved to be transformative.
Finding himself repeatedly drawn to stories about the lack of access to education for young girls around the world, he educated himself on the issue and ultimately joined with others building schools aimed at educating girls in Africa and Asia. He found his passion in this work and says, “I’ve become a proselytizer seizing every opportunity to talk with anyone I can about the need to educate girls. I tell stories of the amazing work people are doing!” Instead of just turning the channel to avoid the bad news he found overwhelming, he chose a proactive response. Thanks to his friend’s challenge, he found the “invitation” within the News coverage that sparked his passion, and turned a “bad news” story into “good news.”
All people have a natural, biological need for equilibrium. Without balance between the negative and positive experiences of life, we can slip into a state of mental paralysis in which our inspiration and creativity are dormant. We cannot risk being without inspiration and creativity because these two uniquely human strengths are critical to solving problems, small and large. Hope for balance in the News has a champion in the well-respected print/online media outlet, The Huffington Post with their new segment aptly called Good News. In acknowledging the influential role of the News media in the lives of viewers and readers, founder Arianna Huffington says, “Those of us in the news media have provided too many autopsies of what went wrong and not enough biopsies.” She is raising the bar for others who report the News. One other hopeful example of more balanced coverage is the Cable News Network’s CNN Heroes awards and features that highlight positive, transformative stories of ordinary people putting compassion and hope to work.
The real crisis and heartbreaking stories we hear about daily on the News do invite us in, reminding us of our common humanity and need for one another. But to benefit from finding our “invitation” to participate in repairing the world among the news stories that we watch or read, those stories must come to us in the context of balance. The mantra of media executives is that news stories about the titillating, the scandalous, and even the invented crisis are what the public craves. That presumption, and the life-draining “News” that results from it, can only be changed by you and me. The courage, imagination, and voice of each of us have a cumulative energy that gives us the power to polish the world.