If there’s a knock that journalists hear most – aside from outright dismissals like “the biased media” or “fake news” – it might just be this: You never report good news.
First of all, that’s not true.
We’re constantly accused, for example, of hating public schools and wanting them to fail because we do substantive investigative reporting on education. Yet this week alone, we ran a piece detailing the ways in which educators at one school have stepped up to respond to a surge in homeless students, and on the benefits that schools and educators in Chula Vista have reaped from having an open, productive relationship with charters.
“Good news” or positive stories can be a wonderful way to examine programs and approaches that are working – particularly when those programs could be replicated elsewhere.
But that’s not what most people are seeking when they demand good news. They mostly want positivity for positivity’s sake – and it tends to come from a belief that there’s an equal amount of “good” news and “bad” news that a news agency could be reporting on at any given time, and that journalists simply choose to focus on negativity for misguided or malicious reasons. In fact, it’s quite the opposite: Journalists write about things that are going wrong so that the public can get to work making things right. Uncovering “bad” news is actually a deeply optimistic acknowledgment that things can get better.
Look, I get it. I tweet baby tiger photos. I consume frightening amounts of TV and junk food. It’s wonderful and even necessary to seek out things that bring you joy in what can be a scary, sad world.