Wednesday, 22 December 2010

Bad news sells papers

I'm getting a little fed up with picking up the morning paper and finding it full of reports of unfortunate people stranded at airports or stuck on icy roads. Nor am I very interested in reading the gruesome details revealed in the trial of the so-called Crossbow Cannibal who murdered several prostitutes and claims to have eaten some of their body parts. The squabbles between divorcing couples over alleged hidden millions of pounds leave me cold.

Newspaper editors claim to publish what their readers want. I have no doubt they are right. As long ago as the 18th and 19th centuries men would hawk penny broadsheets containing the last speeches of executed people so this is no new phenomenon. But I do wish we could read a little more good news. The television news programmes manage to find good news quite frequently. Only last night the national news covered a story concerning a child saved from an almost certain early death by a new medical technique and this was followed by the local news broadcasting a story about Christmas hampers being delivered to needy pensioners courtesy of a company which had spent £2,000 on them. (They never mention all those Lions Clubs doing the same thing.) It's not just the television news that covers good news. Last week, for example, there was a programme which ran for an hour and a half in which servicemen received awards for doing things which many would consider beyond the call of duty. There was a bomb disposal officer who had defused 139 improvised explosive devices in Afghanistan, including no fewer than 14 during one nine-hour working day. A day or so later there was a paragraph in the paper reporting that he had given a very high gallantry award but not even a photograph of this extremely brave man. There has been no mention in then papers of the team of Royal Marines who worked for half an hour in a burning helicopter to free the trapped pilot despite the ever-present risk of the fuel exploding. If the television people can find these stories why can't the newspapers?

No, I don't want to see headlines like "Fog in the Channel: no ships collide" but I do think there could be space for more good news. There must be other readers like me surely? Or am I just not normal?


Suldog said...

I would love to see more good news, too. Unfortunately, it appears not to sell. I recall there being a newspaper published over here, for a very short while a few years back, that published nothing but good news. It failed to generate sales enough to keep it alive.

#1Nana said...

Unintended consequences...while I appreciate the message of your post, I really want to know more about this crossbow murderer! I must be watching the wrong news.

i am with you that we don't hear enough about the good that is going on in the world. They'll save all those sappy stories for publication on Christmas.

Brighton Pensioner said...

OK Nana, if you must... Go to any British newspaper's web site (eg and search for "crossbow cannibal". You're pretty certain to find all you want and more.