How about a news outlet called Just the Good News?
Just the Good News would seek out important developments, innovations, policy, people, international affairs which are timely but also positive.
- November 8, 2016
- Neer Korn
We are drawn to bad news; we cannot help our morbid curiosity. News organisations know this all too well – bad news sells. But we don’t particularly like that aspect of ourselves. Images of devastation, war, accidents etc. are alluring, but we don’t feel good about ourselves for having seen them.
Australians feel that the news they are presented with is getting edgier, more explicit and increasingly negative as time progresses. They’ve noticed, for example, that imagery and footage that would not have been broadcast just few years ago is commonplace today. Traditional news sources have been pushed along by the proliferation of digital news services and social media, for whom there are no sacred cows. In order to keep up, traditional news services have loosened their self-censorship and now depict imagery and footage its consumers are not comfortable with.
For some years now Australians have endured a powerful sense of pervading public negativity. The political climate has been marked by seemingly unprecedented hostility ever since Julia Gillard became Prime Minister. The airing of nastiness, both within and between our major political parties inevitably takes a toll on society. Political leaders do play a role in setting the mood of the nation -calming, inflaming or disengaging them.
Take the economy for example. There is an overwhelming sense of economic doom and gloom among Australians. Despite the 25 years of consecutive growth Australia has experienced and which has never been brought up spontaneously by our group participants, the feeling is that we were really lucky to survive the GFC and they don’t believe we will fare as well next time around. They worry about the global economy, unmanageable debt levels that not long ago was frequently described as an “emergency.” They constantly hear negative stories about diminishing housing affordability, the post mining boom economy and the ever growing pressures on health budgets. It makes perfect sense that such fears are so strongly held among Australians because that is what they constantly see, hear and read. While negative stories dominate, positive ones seem to seldom see the light of day, and Australians want more of those. “How often have you read an article which says ‘Malcolm Turnbull, nice decision mate,” says one young man. “It’s never happened. If I was just from the outside, I’d just think ‘Malcolm Turnbull is a retard’ but realistically he’s probably one of the smartest blokes in Australia.”
In their private lives Australians work hard at seeing the glass-half-full. They are actively focussed on appreciating all that is good about their lives and try very hard not to be preoccupied by their stresses. They have learnt how to “change the channel,” as a Melbourne woman put it, to the concurrence of all the other mums in the group discussion.
They lament, however, that it is not easy maintaining a positive outlook when the all-pervasive media is so negative and so in their face. Exasperating things is that news is no longer something they seek out, as it constantly streams and updates on their news feeds. The media is blamed as the primary source of negativity and fear mongering in society. “I think The Anchorman summed it up,” said a 24 year old Sydney man, “it’s all about sensationalising and ratings, it’s not about real news and I’d actually prefer to be a little bit in the dark. I don’t want to hear about every single rape and murder and pillage that goes on. I don’t want to know.”
Good news stories are rare and too often offered with much condescension. As a retires from Sydney expressed, “Well I think most of the good news that they put on is airy-fairy, something about a dog that’s just had some puppies and ‘aren’t they cute?’ Whereas that’s not news, that’s just light entertainment at the end of half an hour. I think there’s a lot of news out there that is worthwhile reporting on.”
What if we did have a good news masthead, one that offered only positive stories? I once raised this idea with news executives at a commercial network, and was soundly rebuffed. I think they are wrong and the time is right. A good news service that keeps Australians up to date but focussing on real stories that are positive will be well received. It will respond to concerns like this woman’s, “I feel like if we can hear about the all the things that are going wrong we should also be able to hear about the things that are going right, just so we have that balance and we know what’s going on in our own country.”
Just the Good News would seek out important developments, innovations, policy, people, international affairs which are timely but also positive. It will be seen as not only a safe haven news service but also an uplifting one at the same time.
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