Home Opinions Striking a balance between good news and bad

Striking a balance between good news and bad

by Hanna Fathi October 10, 2017 1 comment

Why The Goodnewspaper’s disregard of the negative isn’t the solution to improving society

So, what do you want to hear first: the good news or the bad news?

With all that is upsetting in the world today, from natural disasters and terrorism to politics and
everyday life, it’s understandable that many people feel powerless whenever they see the news. The scales of justice and equality seem to be tipped down, and it’s getting hard to imagine they could ever lift back up. A new quarterly publication called The Goodnewspaper aims to change this by only printing “good news.”

What falls under this category are mainly stories about people who “[cut] through the negativity by doing something different. They focus on hope and goodness and happiness,” according to the newspaper’s founder, Branden Harvey, on his podcast, Sounds Good. The idea is to motivate and inspire readers by sharing these positive stories, and help them see the world in a more positive way.  The Goodnewspaper also offers a weekly newsletter that claims to feature the most inspiring and positive news from around the globe. Although this may sound like a good idea in theory, it certainly isn’t in reality.

Ultimately, I don’t think this newsletter should be seen as a legitimate news source, given it is censored to purposely avoid any bad news. In an attempt to avoid upsetting readers, The Goodnewspaper fails to tackle everyday issues like unproportional government services, poverty and injustice. Instead, it focuses solely on stories about people who have used a positive outlook to change their life.

The Goodnewspaper targets people looking for hope rather than negative news. Yet the problem with only hearing about success stories is they can make other shortcomings look colossal in comparison. It can be hard for everyday people to relate to these grand success stories, especially if they don’t have the same resources or opportunities. This newspaper brings attention to the fact that it’s a privileged idea to think everyone has time, money and physical abilities to do good deeds. The truth is, not a lot of people do.

In contrast, local and national news report things that affect regular people. These outlets reinforce the idea that, as a community, we are all partly responsible for what happens around us. It’s hard to hear about tragedies, to learn about the low points of society and to wonder how to make the world a better place. And remaining an informed citizen in today’s fast-paced world doesn’t make any of this easier. But being aware about bad situations is a good thing. It’s what gets people motivated to change the situations around them.

The news today may seem negative, but it’s important to remember the stories being told are ones we need to be talking about. And contrary to what The Goodnewspaper suggests, most of the news stories published or broadcasted aren’t meant to make people feel bad. Rather, exposing yourself to the bad news is an opportunity to learn about your community and question what can be changed.

People who stress out about world events would certainly benefit from this newsletter, but there are also a lot of people who will use it to ignore their responsibilities. It can be hard to motivate yourself to be an agent for change, but avoiding reality will limit your ability to question why things happen and make it harder to change these bad news stories into good ones.

We shouldn’t cut negativity out of our lives—we should learn from it. Every serious news story directly affects real people, and reading The Goodnewspaper won’t fix their problems. The truth is, there will never be a perfect balance between good and bad news, but as a society, we need both to survive.

Graphic by Zeze Le Lin

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  • Branden Harvey

    Hi Hanna — I’m Branden, the founder of the Goodnewspaper.

    Thanks so much for thoughtfully writing this critique. I truly do appreciate your perspective. I completely agree with you on a number of points.

    My question for you — have you read the Goodnewspaper yet?

    The reason I ask is that the Goodnewspaper has never claimed to be an escape from bad news. We dive deep into the injustices in the world. The Goodnewspaper has always been a celebration of solutions and an encouragement for people to use their privilege — whatever it is — to get involved. Every page has action steps for people of all abilities and with all levels of resources and available time to take action. And at the end of our recent issue we specifically highlight our encouragement for readers to subscribe to more-regular pieces of journalism.

    I’d love to send you a free copy of the Goodnewspaper. I hope it’ll offer some more context for you — but also just that you enjoy it.

    Shoot me an email at branden@goodgoodgood.co with a good mailing address.

    I’m going to take this critique and definitely use it to improve the way we communicate what we’re doing with the Goodnewspaper. It’s really helpful to hear your perspective.

    Thank you,
    Branden