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News is news

November 11, 2010 - Jodelle Greiner
We hear variations of this comment from time to time “There’s nothing good in the newspaper!” or “Why do you always print the bad news?”

In the news business there is no such thing as “good” news or “bad” news, there is just news.

Let me illustrate: when I worked in Texas, the sheriff’s office was really good about letting us know when they had made a drug bust and we’d go down to the office and take a picture of all the drugs they had confiscated. Invariably, we’d get comments. Some people would complain “Don’t print that! That’s telling everyone we’ve got drugs in this county!” Some people would say “Great! That’s telling everyone we’re getting the drugs out of this county!”

So, tell me: was it “good” news or “bad” news? Seems to me it depends on your perspective.

Journalists are observers. We record what is happening around us in as matter-of-fact a way as possible. The purpose of this is to inform you, the public, what is happening in your community. That is where our responsibility ends — and where your responsibility begins.

We tell you what’s going on but it’s up to you to decide what to do about it. You can gripe about the media or you can change the news we have to cover.

I think what upsets people the most about the “bad” news is the feeling of helplessness they get upon reading it.

The way to stop feeling helpless is to do something about it. Pick a topic where you can make a difference: make quilts to give to people who have lost everything in a house fire; take out your chainsaw and help clean up after storms; form a neighborhood watch to keep the streets safe; volunteer to teach a class in something; campaign for a safe place for the kids to gather instead of roaming the streets; volunteer to help women or children who are abused; pray for those who are making a difference, like our police and firefighters.

In other words: get involved in some way. You will feel less helpless and you can make a difference in your community.

Maybe that difference will be enough to change the news we report — it’s worth a try, don’t you think?


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