Lately, watching or listening to the news is getting more complicated. On the one hand I want to be informed of current events but on the other hand, so much of the news is negative that it is like taking in a deep breath of anxiety. My late father in law used to refer to the 10pm newscast as the “bad news” and to a large extent he remains right. The focus is often on political divides, crime, crappy weather, and male sports. Most broadcast stations are dependent on getting viewers to tune in so that they can show their advertisers metrics to get them to buy ads, and unfortunately the ‘if it bleeds it leads’ mentality remains effective at gaining viewers.
A few months ago I wrote letters to all of the local TV meteorologists asking them why they do not naturally work climate change in to their broadcasts. I gave some examples where they could weave it in and asked them to consider raising public consciousness on this important topic. I did not get a single reply but I already knew the answer from listening to Paul Douglas many times over the years. The station directors are not going to let the meteorologists talk about something on the air that might alienate 30% of their misinformed viewers who think climate change is a hoax or a liberal conspiracy. Some might talk about how the local news is a public service or similar but in reality, it is a popularity contest trying to gain viewer share. For the most part they all follow the same format, take the same time for commercial breaks, have similarly relatable and attractive anchors, and so on. No one is willing to take a risk as it might put them at a disadvantage. This same type of issue plagues other industries as well, one example is the rental car business. I could make 10 car rental reservations for tonight at 10 different airports and when I do not show to pick up my cars there is no penalty, no cost, no consequence to me of any kind. Rental car companies would love to take a deposit that is not refundable after 48 hours before the reservation or similar but they won’t until the majority of rental car companies do it because it would give other companies a marketing advantage. So they continue on with their current process which costs them revenue. The news is the same way, until most agree to openly discuss climate change as a regular part of their broadcast, very few will.
I find myself more drawn to late night, satire, and comedy segments lately as a means of keeping up with current events, because at least then I can have a laugh about it and not feel quite so hopeless about humanity. The other place that I have been finding incredibly positive to watch is actually right within our local news broadcast. Award winning journalist Boyd Huppert does a segment called “Land of 10,000 Stories” that I would strongly suggest you give some time even if you are not in Minnesota. His stories are often inspirational and positive, while showing a human element that is challenging to find elsewhere. I would recommend Mrs. Delicious Pay It Forward Ice Cream which convinced me that goodness is prevailing and that I would be willing to pay $20 for an ice cream bar under these circumstances. Next give a watch to this Switched at Birth story which is genuinely amazing and follow it up with a bittersweet story about Best Friends, one of whom is a WWII veteran and the other who is a preschooler. If you too need a dose of positively and optimism and want to follow and see more of these stories on Facebook, you can do so here.