The good news is the news.
The idea of good news has become novel, almost subversive, in today’s highly polarized news landscape.
Actor and producer John Krasinski hosted a show called “Some Good News” that became wildly popular on social media in the early months of the pandemic (remember March, April 2020?). The idea of Krasinski’s show played off the premise that things were so bad that audiences needed some rare, good news for a much-needed boost, a shot of dopamine, some hope.
I get it. The news can be scary, sad and even traumatic.
Beyond reports of COVID-19, racial violence and growing economic disparity, the news that I also find alarming is of the deep divisions that often seem to coalesce around the news industry.
That division is seen clearly, at least to a journalist, in the way people respond to journalists . But shouting or tweeting “fake news” at a hard-working journalist is less of an accusation and more a reflection of one’s values about information that is uncomfortable.
Actual misinformation threatens people’s lives and livelihoods and pedals false information about the pandemic, a political candidate or even an education policy with the aim to amplify division and hate. Misinformation is strategic, not factual.
Newsrooms are not perfect — not by a long shot. Newsrooms have failed, in many cases, to represent the complex diversity of their audiences.
There is a long-overdue reckoning happening in many newsrooms across the country, and it will be the work of all journalists to ensure those places become more equitable institutions that seek to more deeply understand and tell the stories of entire communities.
But for all of its imperfections, the news tells us of the places in which we invest our lives, our time and our money.
As I scroll through the homepages of the LA Times, The Malibu Times, and the Thousand Oaks Acorn, I see stories about poet laureates, community fundraisers, sewer charges and property taxes. I see reports about COVID-19 vaccines, the Academy Awards and funding toward low-income housing. None of these stories showed up on my social media feeds and yet, here they are helping me to better understand my neighbors, my community and my choices.
As I scroll through the homepage of the Graphic, I see stories of the incoming provost, the Model United Nations team and the recent graduation announcement. I see opinion pieces discussing Syria, vaccination policies and LinkedIn. I see sports reporting on the recent tennis wins and Pepperdine’s successes across the WCC. I see Life & Arts pieces on student teachers, the Compassion in Action Club and an indie Irish film.
In all of my years as a journalist, journalism educator and newsroom adviser, I am continually convicted that we cannot fully invest ourselves in our communities if we do not know the stories — big and small — of those communities.
Perhaps the best news in all of this is that the news isn’t some lark, some hobby or playful satire. News — real news — is representative of an essential value and the natural right to freedom of expression fundamental to the First Amendment. The beauty of the First Amendment is that it not only protects journalists, it protects each of us.
That’s more than good news — that is hope.
Follow the Graphic on Twitter: @Peppgraphic
Contact Elizabeth Smith via Twitter: @tweetinginla or by email: firstname.lastname@example.org