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ChangingMinds Blog! > Blog Archive > 25-May-07


Friday 24-May-07

Bad news, good news, weird news

When my daughter was very young, Martyn Lewis, one of the national BBC newsreaders went to her school in a move to get young children interested in the wider world. She flummoxed him by asking 'Why is there only bad news?' He didn't have a good answer but the sad reality is that bad news sells more papers. But why is this?
Bad news elsewhere makes feel lucky to be as we are. It lets us feel safe, righteous indignation or the secret schadenfreude of pleasure at others' misfortune. It may also make us anxious as it seems to give useful warnings about the hazards in the world around us.

There has been occasional attempts to create good-news papers and bulletins, but these have largely and tellingly flopped. Perhaps they would be more effective if they calked it 'Bad news' or 'Shock-horror crisis news', if newspaper headlines are to be believed. Even the phrase 'Good news' has been hijacked by the religious right who use it in magazines and their conversion literature. Cynics also have fun with the idea. But let's be positive: there are sites out there such as the Good News Network and the Good News Blog still trying to spread good news to people for whom Christian messages may be neither good nor new.

Every morning on Waterloo station I pick up a free Metro newspaper which seems to have found a more neutral balance than most papers. Sure, it has the dismal horrors of the world but also has more magazine-like human interest articles and a light sprinkling of the bizarre and weird, which are also on their website so you can see what I mean. Another great source of strange news from around the world is Fark.

Weird stories can tell of human stupidity, which helps me feel less stupid. They can also tell about strange events, which make me wonder. Overall, they are more stimulating and if they make me feel good and laugh, even in a daring non-PC way, then perhaps I can start my day with a smile on my face.

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