This is not about my daffs, which are lovely and yah boo sucks to anyone who doesn’t like them – it’s about the News. More and more these days I find myself turning the news off after a few minutes. Why? Because it’s All Bad. Yep, as Martyn Lewis has frequently observed:
there’s a definite bias in the media towards negative news and a perception that good-news items are like water-skiing budgerigars, safely left to the funny-bit-at-the-end slot. Life, says the news agenda, is a grim business and we’d best put a good face on it. They sound like a mixture of Eeyore the donkey and Puddleglum the Marsh Wiggle. Even when there is a good news story they seem compelled to stick a Dire Warning at the end of it. If there’s peace then it’s fragile; if there’s a deal it may come unstuck; if there’s an economic recovery it’s precarious – and so on and on. Otherwise it’s not news. Peace continues; industrial deal sticks, economic recovery continues – these are not, in themselves, news. There must be an angle – and that angle is almost always a negative one.
Why? As Lewis so cogently observes, if journalists are meant to reflect the world, then why are they not reflecting the things that go right as well as the things that go wrong? I have some sympathy for politicians in this regard. They can make any number of devastatingly effective speeches; they can pass sound laws and make good decisions, but make one slip-up – underestimate the number of kitchens in your house or get someone’s name wrong or have a blank moment when you’re talking about housing, and the media is on you like hounds on a stray fox.
Martyn Lewis is patron of a paper called Positive News. You’d think this would be a welcome breath of sweet air in the foul miasma of negativity; however I find it oddly anodyne. I think the answer is not to have one paper wholly devoted to positive stories, but to reflect those situations where, say, people have overcome huge odds; where they’ve been tempted but haven’t fallen; where they’ve built something amazing or just damn-well got it right.
I rest my case.