Reality bringing you down? Here’s the ‘Good News’! by underground

Every news site has a headline that reads of another atrocity. Every hour on the radio brings another depressing report. Every page of the newspaper bears another story of anguish. The television’s six o’clock bulletin blares pain and suffering from the speakers. Is reality bringing you down? Are you sick about hearing what is wrong in the world? Do you feel as though the negative gets too much coverage? Do you long for good news instead of bad?

Here’s the ‘good news‘!

Following the recent election turmoil in Zimbabwe, I was interested in how the African media was covering the crisis. Having an interest in South Africa, I thought I’d check out how South African papers have covered the issue. In particular I wanted to know what was being said about Mbeki’s lack of action or condemnation. I am aware that Mugabe is popular in Africa, hailed as a post-colonial hero, but considering that 3 million refugees (I think) have made their way south into his country, South Africa’s president should be more assertive.

I found the Mail and Guardian website and read a few articles on the issue (could someone please tell me about the papers in South Africa, in particular if particular papers have certain political bias, cheers). While searching the page I found a link to a news site entitled “The Good News“. The link stated the South African Rand was the “best performing currency against the US dollar between 2002 and 2005”. Lower down I found another link this one declaring that that three South African cities were voted amongst the 100 most ‘liveable cities’ in the world. Intrigued, I decided to check it out.

Basically it is a South African news site, that only reports ‘good news’. The lead story when I clicked on the link was the optimistic story about how Africa economy will “remain robust” despite the global economic slowdown, according to the IMF. (I love the photo of the prosperous black couple, nice diversion from the continents overwhelming poverty!)

Even crime news is positive! Despite South Africa unfortunately being renowned for its appalling crime stats, there is some good news. Here’s a story on a decrease in crime in Gauteng. Here’s another on how there were less accidents this Easter than last year, despite there being more vehicles on the road.

The sports page only seems to report South African victories (which means the page is a little empty ;-) ).

The 2010 Football World Cup has a tab dedicated solely to the event, despite the concerns that the host nation will not be ready for the tournament. (sorry the ‘concerns’ link is old, couldn’t find a newer source, but I know similar concerns still exist.)

So why a site that only reports good news? Won’t readers become delusional?

The site explain their motives in the ‘about us‘ section. When I first visited the site, I was dismissive of the idea of only presenting good news. I imagined that is was a site for diluted South Africas who thought everything is fine, or for ostriches with their head in sand?

After reading the about page (about half way through writing this blog!) I changed my mind. The positive angle was merely presenting the other side of the story. Those behind the site aren’t denying the faults South Africa has, just informing readers of the little known positives that exist.

Perhaps other news outlets could learn something, especially as many idealist journalists aspire to change the world for the better.

“We choose to concentrate on the solution, rather than the problem. We strive to offer solutions where others may just see a crisis.”

My girlfriend is South African, as are many of my friends, and having spoken to them and their families I am aware of how tragic the situation is over there. Considering the instability, the crime, the poverty, the health issues, unemployment and general lack of prosperity and hope, perhaps good news is a welcome distraction. How can you have hope for the future, when everything is so grim.

People are not going to forget the bad news anytime soon, especially in a country as problem stricken as South Africa. And positive news should not negate bad news and render them unimportant. But if you are ever going to look forward to the future and aspire to better things, perhaps it is healthy to stop and reflect what’s going right.

The title to this piece reflected my initial cynical impression of the site. Maybe it would be fairer to say that ‘Good news’ presents the other side of the story. The ‘good’ side.

Or is it just an advert for First National Bank? Damn I’m cynical!


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