It’s time to highlight positive news, communicate the actions that have led to important achievements in all fields and report on the work of insightful individuals.
The Good Times concept – A revolution in news
No less than a revolution is needed – a revolution that transforms the news we read.
Today’s newspapers, news broadcasts, news journals or magazines, and news websites deliver what they deem to be newsworthy in overly negative terms. The overarching notion since the beginning of print media has been that bad news sells; good news need not be reported as it requires no commentary, nor is the public interested in it. Yet no one can deny that today’s media is in a crisis. Magazine circulation and advertising have plummeted and news organizations have cut staffs. Sales are down. Newspaper groups are facing bankruptcy. Network newscasts are losing viewers.
It’s time for a revolution, time to bring the positive to the fore and relegate the doom and gloom to the back.
As drastic action is urgently needed to turn the industry around, the experts are advocating novel systems for delivering the news: ticker lines, websites, blogs, twits, webcasts, tabloids, podcasts and other innovative electronic methods, not to mention 24-hour TV entertainews or infotainment and talk radio or TV programs. The Good Times believes news delivery must indeed change in tandem with our new and emerging technologies, demographics and customer preferences. But more and quicker do not necessarily mean better. A more fundamental change than just distribution methods and speed of delivery is required to disseminate today’s news. A major shift in content is needed.
Today, you, as part of the global audience, are bombarded with instantaneous information you receive on the radio, TV, internet, in periodicals and even via your mobile phone. Whether or not the news stories have been properly vetted or objectively written, the news is overwhelmingly negative and the words harsh: “EU and US Set to Clash Over Open Skies;” “Sunni Militants Disrupt Efforts to Calm Baghdad;” “Facing Life with a Lethal Gene;” “Oracle Accuses SAP Arm of Corporate Theft;” etc. All of this is grim news. The events are reported, but not necessarily explained. You are informed but hardly educated. And often the same bad news is repeated every day. The wars drag on. More soldiers and innocent citizens die. A fire is out of control over days. Starvation in Biafra lasts months, years. Yet another suicide bomb attack has killed dozens. There’s no cure for AIDS, neither for cancer. In being made aware of this news day in and day out, what can we, as individuals, possibly do about it? We know instantly what’s happening on the other side of the planet but we are left helpless with that knowledge. So decade after decade, day after day, we the public, we who wish to be informed, become increasingly callous, apathetic, powerless, overburdened.
The perception is that the problems have become so large and intractable that there’s nothing anybody can do. The problems are everywhere and global in scope; things are getting worse. Many of us feel far removed from the world’s big and complex events. So why even bother buying the newspaper. Even the recent nuclear negotiations with North Korea or the war in Afghanistan have failed to generate much interest, and the number of topics covered is decreasing. It’s the same news again and again, prompting us to believe nothing can be done. In no way can we individually make a difference. So our attention draws inward, to local politics and missing children. Meanwhile newspaper sales continue to decline and fewer people watch the nightly news. Newsweeklies are downsizing or changing identity. Yet the experts maintain that bad news sells. Does it still? No. It’s time for a revolution, time to bring the positive to the fore and relegate the doom and gloom to the back.
It’s time to highlight good news, communicate the actions that have led to important achievements in all fields and report on the work of insightful individuals. The bad news will always be there but its focus and intensity need to change. In each and every crisis there is prospect for positive change and new opportunity to spotlight.
And it’s time also for the news to help convey the solutions to the global challenges and offer the experts’ suggestions as to what we individuals can personally do to help. As just one example, in order to address the international problem of overfishing, let’s advocate such ideas as eating only sustainable fish (someone please post the list), or support policy to shrink fishing capacity. Waste in the world is reduced by the dissemination of suggestions on how people can recycle and reuse household materials or make their own cleaning products. Education reduces violence against girls, and successful programs that reward parents for sending their children to school exist. Let’s advertise them. Community Empowerment Programs also exist. Which one can you tell us about? Micro-credit schemes targeting women have not just provided ways out of poverty but have brought down divorce rates. It’s time to provide greater awareness of such initiatives. It’s time to illustrate how women or the elderly contribute to society, or explain how the issues of migration and addressing climate change can make our world better. Collective solutions to many global problems do exist but we need to know about them, and what you may be doing about them, much more.
Many people like you, whether a politician, scientist, academic, business person, representative of an NGO, journalist or individual acting at the grassroots level, are advancing knowledge, finding innovative solutions to the world’s problems or simply acting in small ways to help humanity or your fellow man. Jack Sim and his World Toilet Organization are working towards delivering sustainable sanitation, improving the quality of life of millions. We hear little about such efforts or about what many social entrepreneurs are doing.
Médecins sans Frontières was formed by French doctors in reaction to the murders and starvation they witnessed in Biafra. Many such examples exist. Few are known. So it’s time for us to refocus and rewrite today’s news, placing positive information in the limelight. And it’s time for enlightening news to serve a true public good, in the public interest. Negative news has been on the front pages for too long. Too many people today are depressed and passive, smothered by the negativity. We’ve overdosed on it.
So instead inspire us, uplift us, take part in the revolution. It’s time to share your positive stories with the world.
March 8, 2007