I’m troubled by the way we define “news.”
Things that have already happened, bad things usually, and then we watch as reporter after reporter clamors for the same story.
It’s worse today than when I was a journalist in decades prior, simply because the Internet presence of news outlets pressures its writers to be the fastest, the first, to post the story. Forget meticulous reportage and creative writing. Forget in-depth interviews where you find nuance and style.
It’s tell-a-story-NOW and get it live.
So speed is one enemy to news reporting, but another is the definition of news itself. Terror, horror, tragedy. Those are the big three for coverage. Which leads to obesity, depression, suicide and dissatisfaction. All newsworthy to cover because they’re so rampant.
Have we ever considered that one leads to the other?
What if we covered the good news – examples of random acts of kindness, curiosities, entrepreneurship, innovation, love.
And I don’t mean sappy, hearts-and-chocolates love. I mean the love defined as universal identification, when you can see the inherent humanity in every person you pass and when you look into the eyes of a stranger, you see yourself, your soul, reflected back.
My children scoff at me when I tell them that it is a choice to be happy, that it is a choice to see the good in others. Usually I’m saying this in the context of siblings fighting, and they roll their eyes and exclaim, “Mom! You just don’t understand.”
Sure, it’s taken me 30-some years to fully grasp the concept that we are indeed the architects of our own happiness or misfortune, that how we look at life, and how we experience it, is entirely up to us.
But what if I’d “gotten it” earlier and raised my children in an environment bookended by beliefs of the ultimate universal good and a benevolence toward all?
If I had, I’d be running a marathon against evil because all around are the influences of denial that good permeates the world, that this is a happy existence.
Just read the news.
See the tragedy, the terror, the horror. See how fat everyone is, and suicidal, how dissatisfied with life, how down-and-out.
Major snowstorm on the East Coast. Ok, it’s reportable. But what about the families hibernating in their homes, cuddling together on the couch, having precious time together to talk, to watch movies, to enjoy the connection between them.
What about a story on the benefit of downtime to connect with loved ones? What about the importance of balance in our busy lives, so a snowstorm forces us to stop and rest?
What about the kids who grab their sleds and coast down the empty roads?
We hear lots of reports about financial falls, get letters from our investment advisors to reassure us when the market drops. But what about letters celebrating when the numbers are up?
It’s important to tell the story of tainted water killing people in a city an hour north of us and it’s a horrible tragedy that this ever happened.
For one, if all people believed in goodness and right, it would not have happened. No one would hide things or try to cut corners at the expense of human life. If we had an overarching air of goodness and giving, no person could have contributed to such a situation.
More than that, though, as we see cover stories and in-depth national features about this crisis, we are conspicuously not seeing the good news around it too.
Like my childhood friend Ross Green, who is organizing a water-bottle drive to send pallets of donated bottled water to Flint. He posted it on Facebook, and so many of us who’ve known each other since elementary or middle school are sending checks to increase the amount of drinkable water sent.
That’s the good news.
The acts of kindness, of Right, of down and out love, that I’d rather be reading about. Sure, we have to tell the Big stories, but can’t we also tell the good little ones that always surround the bad?
It might change all of us, for the better.