If it bleeds it leads. In 45 years of journalism that was the diktat common to every paper I worked on or ran. The worse the news the more the sales. Scandal, death, blood and gore wrapped in cynicism sold. We always convinced ourselves that was what the reader wanted, print and be damned. The stronger the negative the better.
Good news sucked. Nobody wanted it. The news editor would walk in and say okay, there has been an accident, how many casualties, where are the pictures. Disasters brought a hum to the newsroom.
Not our problem. It was the market, we had to cater to it.
Which is why it is so heartening to read about the one agency that has managed to survive by sending out only positive reports. The Good News agency functions globally and has done so for years but never really hit the big top because no one wants to read about the good guys. I don’t think I ever subscribed to it or even advocated it. What would we do with good news, where would we put it? Many people tried then exploded into failure. Good news is boring.
Some papers, in gusts of piety started ‘good news’ columns and like wilted plants they died of neglect.
So, this morning when I read a message from the GNA to me after a long time and read that it was selling in 54 papers I thought, wow, maybe things have changed. Maybe people are tired of hate and violence and war and death and the killing fields are fallow. Maybe people want ‘feel good’ stuff and need to know there is a lot of good out there.
Then the cynic took over. Nah, nothing changes that much. Over the years the media has trained its readers too well… it is a Faustian pact… you will learn to love hate or there won’t be any bonus for the Press.