Stop press: the world is a wonderful place!
Should there be good news correspondents? Traditionally most events that make the headlines are bad – wars, disasters, deaths. But it may be time to take a more cheerful approach.
Green technology is on the point of taking off. It is becoming cheaper, and more effective. The EU is investing more than one trillion euros. Soon, it could power machines to take carbon dioxide out of the atmosphere. Hurray!
Reports like this should be in newspapers. TV presenters should be discussing them. Instead, we are weighed down by reports of climate change and disaster.
There is much good news out there. New Zealand’s prime minister appointed the most diverse cabinet in the country’s history.
We may have a coronavirus vaccine. British doctors are about to be put on standby to administer it. It is expected to be given to people over 85 and front-line NHS workers.
Another breakthrough is in breast cancer treatment. A new test identifies women most in danger of relapse. They can be closely monitored and those less at risk can be spared chemotherapy.
The charity Concern Worldwide reports “optimism” that it will be possible to end extreme poverty by 2030. The poorest 40% in every country could enjoy a higher standard of living.
We are used to sad reports about whales dying on beaches. But more than 100 have just been rescued in Sri Lanka.
NASA announced last week that there is evidence of water on the Moon.
Should there be good news correspondents?
Sunny side up
No: the world is a dangerous place, we need information that will help keep us safe. It is in our interest that the media focus their resources on subjects like war and disease, so that we can take precautions. We can collect good news by following our friends on social media.
Yes: What the news primarily aims to do is grab attention – and negative stories are always more dramatic. The world is improving, but the change is gradual so it does not make the news. We need more journalists to draw attention to it.
- Does life become better as you grow older?
- Design and write the front page of a newspaper consisting of positive stories about you, your family and your friends.
Some People Say...
“The good leader repeats the good news and keeps the worst to himself.”Sophocles (c496-406 BC), Greek playwright
What do you think?
Q & A
- What do we know?
- It is generally agreed that statistically our lives look better than they did in the past. Over the past 200 years, life expectancy has doubled. Since 1995, the proportion of people living in extreme poverty has dropped from 36% to 9%. Education has become more widely available, so that 90% of girls and 92% of boys of primary school age now attend school. The rate of violent crime in the US has been falling for three decades.
- What do we not know?
- One main area of debate is around why we notice bad things more than good things. The Swedish author Hand Rosling argued that there were three factors. First, people tend to be nostalgic about the past, and wrongly insist that things were better then. Secondly, journalists and activists mislead us by emphasising events they want us to worry about. And thirdly, it seems heartless to talk about how wonderful the world is when there is still a great deal of suffering.
- Concern Worldwide
- An Irish charity founded to help provide food to starving people in Biafra in 1968. It now operates in 26 countries around the world.
- Sri Lanka
- An island nation in the Indian Ocean. Formerly part of the British Empire, it became independent in 1948.
- Short for the National Aeronautics and Space Administration, the organisation which runs the US space programme.