Ways of Seeing by Barbara Clearbridge: Why isn’t the good stuff in the news?
I listen to the radio rather than watch television. Now, however, I am fasting almost entirely from conventional radio newscasts. I want, I need, hopeful news, inspiring news, or at least relevant news. I see no reason why radio newscasts have to be nearly entirely about tragedies or relative wealth, especially when the vast majority of us aren’t impacted by the subjects of these reports. Many stories are simply irrelevant.
I have actually heard these stories over the past several months:
“Small plane crash in Texas, 6 killed.”
“Bridge collapsed in Genoa, Italy.” How is that useful or helpful for us to know? Also, this one sentence was the complete story. If it is important for us to know, we need more than a single sentence.
“Earthquake in Indonesia.” This one is important, but why broadcast it with screams and people crying? We don’t need to hear that in order to understand. Also, often in these stories the damage done is expressed in dollars. Why? If a thousand cottages are destroyed, is that less of a tragedy than if a hundred expensive homes are destroyed?
“So-and-so (celebrity) is in the hospital.”
“Such-and-such movie made the most money at the box office this weekend.” Why is this news? How many of us want this information?
“In Athens, Greece, a house fire killed a family of four including two children.” (Interview with sobbing relative.)
“Stock market news including Japanese and European markets and futures trading.” If I’m an investor, am I getting my necessary information from a twenty-second news broadcast?
“The President is on vacation at his golf club today.” This story, at least, was useful — I now know why he didn’t return my calls to the White House…
It’s especially annoying when an interviewer asks someone how they feel about the tragedy that has just devastated them. Am I wrong about this? Do people actually want to watch or hear other people sobbing in misery? I think if something terrible ever happens to me and an interviewer asks me how I feel about it, it will take every peaceful Quaker cell in my body to keep me from bashing them in the head with their microphone.
It’s not just conventional radio stations that do this. Vermont Public Radio frequently has the same stories as other stations, sometimes playing identical sound clips of screams and sirens.
Why not broadcast, instead, these real stories:
Reports about some of the numerous Middle East peacekeeping efforts. For example, tell us who won the annual Goldberg Prize for Peace in the Middle East. Tell us about Daniel Barenboim and the Israeli/Palestinian youth orchestra he conducts every summer in Spain.
Microbank loan success stories. These banks offer very small loans to small businesses and individual people who don’t need much to turn their lives around. Tell us about some of the borrowers so we can buy from them or tell us about the banks so we know where to go if we have an idea ourselves.
Restorative Justice and Court Diversion program success stories.
Alternatives to Violence program success stories.
News from Quirky, a website to help people get their inventions produced.
How the clinical trials are going for the new breast cancer drug called Ibranc. How the trials are going for what might be a new autoimmune disease drug, Low Dose Naltrexone.
News about the work of the Global Peace Initiative of Women Religious & Spiritual Leaders.
What laws are being considered today in the U.S. legislature? In the Vermont legislature?
Give us statistics every year on women’s pay compared to men’s in different occupations and regions, so we can see where progress is not being made. Tell us which occupations in the U.S. still have a “glass ceiling”?
What is the Southern Poverty Law Center working on this month? They use litigation, education, and other forms of advocacy to realize the ideals of equal justice and equal opportunity.
What has the Rights of Nature movement accomplished lately? Past results: Ecuador’s 2008 constitutional acknowledgment of the rights of Mother Nature, New Zealand’s granting legal personhood to the Te Urewera forest in 2014; and India’s courts 2017 ruling that the Ganges and Yamuna rivers have the right to exist, thrive, and evolve. Surely these stories are as important as telling us that a bus in Scotland ran off the road.
Last month, the people of Toledo, Ohio voted in favor of legislation that will protect Lake Erie by granting it the same rights as person. This information came from goodnewsnetwork.org. How about incorporating their stories into our mainstream daily news?
And, most important of all, tell us why our snowstorms so often come on Wednesdays.
Barbara Clearbridge, known around town by her nickname “Shulamith” (which means “peace”), has worked as a medical intuitive and energy work practitioner for over 25 years. She is now expanding her practice to include interfaith spiritual direction. She is the author of “Natural First Aid & Simple Health Solutions,” “Heal With Your Hands,” “Finding God By Learning How To Pray,” soon to be reprinted as “Prayers & Spiritual Practices from Many Traditions,” and “Recovery: Women’s Words About Healing After Trauma.” Her website is: FeelingMuchBetter.org. She lives in Middlebury.
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