August 08, 2011

Taking it up a notch and searching for the phrase “great news” led to some headlines that were outright facetious: “Great news: Service industry now slowing down, too” and “Great news: Downgrade could come as soon as Friday.”

Searching for terms such as “hopeful” and “optimistic” only led to more false positives: “So Hopeful in April, So Glum in August” and “Fugitive’s fiance [sic] isn’t optimistic about how things will turn out.”

These were the only “good news” headlines I found that weren’t ironic or misleading: “Senate Says Good News Coming Soon for Undocumented Students” and “American Muslims hopeful about life in the U.S.

OK, that’s definitely not helping me feel better.

Decades ago, I remember hearing of some newspaper that was founded on the premise that they’d only print good news—no murder, rape, robbery, or corruption stories. The paper quickly folded. The “Nuttin’ But Good News” premise has continued on the Internet on sites so incurably positive, you want to vomit rainbows—sites featuring stories about three-legged tortoises who amble about on a roller wheel and cable guys saving boys from drowning—even an “ALL GOOD NEWS ALL THE TIME” site that’s still waiting for something good to happen. A “good news” search also leads to several sites about the Gospel, which may or may not be good but hardly qualifies as news.

In practical terms, good news is bad for the news business—no one wants to read that your house didn’t burn down and that another day passed without you getting stabbed.

So it’s not even that I need to see good news so much as I think it’d be good to see certain types of bad news reported honestly for once.

Although I’m not optimistic, I’d like to see America’s journalistic climate re-jiggered in a way that eliminates all double standards in how news is reported. A climate where reporters don’t get fired or silenced for not marching in lockstep with the unyielding dictates of current prejudices. Where they realize there’s a constitutional right to free association but no right not to get offended. Where writers actually questioned authority and did investigative reporting again rather than endlessly rewording press releases. Where writers who claim to speak for the working class actually came from the working class.

I close my eyes and visualize some headlines I’d like to see:

“Government Overhauls Welfare: Support for Dependent Children to Be Strictly Based on a Sliding Scale Directly Correlating With the Parents’ IQ”

“African-Americans Have it Better in America Than in Africa”

“Violent Flash Mob Swarms Southern Poverty Law Center Fundraising Picnic”

“Memorial to White Indentured Servants Unveiled in Washington, DC”

“Memorial to Communism’s Victims Constructed Alongside Holocaust Museum”

“Serial Killer Preys on Top Bankers”

“Top Education Official Says, ‘Let’s Leave the Dumb Ones Behind’”

“Social Scientists Finally Admit They Aren’t Scientists at All”

Good news? These days, a man can only imagine.



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