Good news isn’t that hard to come by
Published 7:21 pm Tuesday, September 24, 2019
Here’s a complaint we in The Advocate-Messenger newsroom hear on a regular basis: “The newspaper only prints bad news; you never do stories on the good things going on.”
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Sometimes, that criticism is leveled at the media in general; sometimes, it’s directed squarely at this community newspaper. We hear it from people who come into the office, from people we bump into out in the community, from elected officials, from random internet commenters … it’s safe to say the idea is pervasive, even among those who know better.
This “media only reports bad news” meme is not generally accurate when leveled at the journalism industry as a whole. In the case of a minority of news outlets that really do just peddle in negativity and fear, it’s a completely fair criticism. In the case of The Advocate-Messenger, it is an utterly absurd and false accusation.
When people claim The Advocate doesn’t report enough on good news, we almost have to assume they must not read the newspaper. We believe you’d be hard-pressed to find another paper in Kentucky that pursues positive news about its community more relentlessly than we do.
If you’re a regular reader, some of the positive stories you’ve seen in just the last week include a mosaic art project with students from the Kentucky School for the Deaf; the United Way fundraising with a hilarious “marathon” that was only a half-kilometer long; the Norton Center kicking off its 46th season; the Boyle County Public Library celebrating Banned Books Week; a two-story feature on how Danville High School successfully integrated 55 years ago; the Boyle County Industrial Park earning a “fiber-ready” designation that may attract business; a new streaming service for Boyle County Rebels home games; Ephraim McDowell hospital earning a pediatric ER certification; a preview of the sixth annual “Pup Crawl” fundraiser for the humane society; a tour of important historic sites in Danville; and a One Day feature — which we publish every Wednesday — on the “Voice of Danville Football,” Joe Mathis.
That list isn’t complete, nor is the past week an outlier — you can read that much or more positive news every week in The Advocate-Messenger. It’s been that way for years and it will remain that way for years to come. Telling our community’s positive stories is one of the most important jobs we have as community journalists, and we take that job seriously.
Do we report bad news, too? Definitely. That’s because it’s also a newspaper’s job to make readers aware of bad things that are going on. You cannot fix a problem if you don’t know that it exists.
The Advocate-Messenger covers problems like poverty, drug abuse, food insecurity, crime, criminal justice problems and the behavior and policies of elected officials. We do it not because we want to spread bad news, but because it is a necessary step toward making things better.
If you sweep your problems under the rug, they will only ever get worse. If you stare them in the face and deal with them realistically, you can at least try to make them better.
Even our reporting on bad news is intended to help the community deal with its problems and make more good news in the future. Without a community newspaper around to do that tough reporting, many problems would persist silently and no one would take action to fix them. The end result would be a community with more bad news, not less.