The "Good News" Discussion

What is "good news"? And is it "good" to everyone?

In giving public speeches, the late Paul Harvey-perhaps as much the eternal optimist as, at least, anyone in the media-mentioned that his network (ABC) once tried airing a newscast featuring nothing but good news.  Harvey noted that it didn't last three months.

People like hearing "bad" news, he reasoned, because it makes them feel better about their own situations. (As long as it is something that doesn't affect them personally, I might add.)

The issue came up again this past week when I approached someone for a comment on the Labor Day shootings in Doddridge County, which left a mother, father and a daughter dead.

"You only come here when there's bad news," she said, declining an on-camera comment. "You're never here when there's good news."

There is, no question, a lot of bad news on everyone's news broadcasts, newspapers and on the web. But does everyone believe what could be called "good" news is good to them?

The fact is, tragic as they may have been, and as much as some people might not have wanted to hear about it, the shootings in Doddridge County are news. How often does something like this happen, even in Parkersburg, where (unfortunately) murders are more common?

And whether some stories are "good" or not depends on who is hearing them.  For instance, if you're a Democrat, it's likely you'll be pleased if President Obama wins the election in November. If you're a Republican, you're probably hopeful Mitt Romney will be the next President of the United States.  It depends on who you are or your particular place in life.

That having been said, when I hear the good news/bad news debate, I'm reminded of what Chet Huntley said on his last newscast on NBC, in another period of turmoil more than 40 years ago: “Be patient and have courage," he said in signing off. "There will be better and happier news some day, if we work at it.”


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