why things are better than we say they are

Two notes before I start this blog: I consider myself an optimist, and I like to look at pieces of an issue so as not to blow the issue out of proportion.

Okay, here we go.

I’ve stopped watching the news. I used to watch the hell out of it, because my grandfather was a newscaster for 38 years. He was an amazing newscaster and is considered a bit of an icon in Chicago, which makes me prouder than he’ll probably ever know. I love finding out that people used to watch him and admire him. My grandfather reported both sides of the news, and he reported all stories equally. No one knew his political affiliations, no one questioned his loyalty to facts, and no one thought he was pushing an agenda.

Can you say the same for today’s news? I really don’t read much American news anymore. To be honest, if I want to learn about an issue in America, I read BBC World News or some other type of outlet along the same lines. Issues in Chicago are harder to find in non-American news outlets, so I usually go to the Reader or the Tribune, despite their bias too.

But, it’s not even the news reporting that necessarily bugs me. It’s the accessibility that the internet has created for anyone to be a commentator on a story.

A few days ago, ABC7 Chicago reported on Obama’s support for the Boy Scouts allowing openly homosexual members into the club. Here are some of the actual responses to the article that I read online:
“He needs to be fkn impeached already!!!”
“OMG you can’t even let little boys be in boy scouts”
“That’s breaking news?”
“Once again this matters why? Obama is a jerkoff.”
“News Break…Gays allowed in boy scouts with little boys. Now Boy scouts looking to add firearms…what’s next, women fighting on the front line?! #worldisbackwards”

I was laughing quite a bit at all of these comments. To be fair, with the internet, you can’t always tell whether someone is being sarcastic or not, so I’m not sure if that last comment was serious or not, but if it was, it’s hilarious. Whether you support our President or not, he is our President, and he is taking a stance on an issue that is nationally relevant and is important to millions of people. Clearly, when he is making this statement, he is letting immigrants ruin our country and burning our economy to the ground. That’s sarcasm. The comments on the news article had nothing to do with facts, statistics, or important issues. It was almost all irrelevant to the article.

When news broke that women would be allowed to fight on the front lines, my fiance aptly warned me not to read any comments online. I still have not read any, because I know that they’re meant to stir up trouble, not truthfully comment on the issue at hand. But nationally supported polls have shown that the majority of Americans polled support this idea and welcome equal rights for women.

So why do things seem so bleak to so many people?

I truthfully think that the more you read these types of biased comments and biased articles on the internet, the less likely you will be to truly grasp the story at hand. It may seem ironic that I’m commenting on internet news stories using the internet, but this isn’t a fact based article. This is literally a place to post opinions, and this is mine.

I would be saying the same thing if it was a Republican President in office and the article was about an issue that I didn’t necessarily agree with, or if the article was biased in a way that favored Obama. But, the example I used is apt as well.

Why is the news so bleak? Why is there not more positivity in the news? What draws us so closely to the macabre of our world?

When my grandfather was a newscaster in the ’70s, he used to write commentary that he would end the show with. This commentary often wasn’t about the negativity of the Vietnam War or the politics of our city (although sometimes they were, and those were just as important.) Often, his commentary was about his family and how lucky he was to experience magical moments with them. He won five Emmys for his writing of these commentaries.

I know there is negative news to report, and that needs to be reported, but what about some happiness every now and then? Both sides of the political spectrum can do this. Conservatives and liberals can report on happiness, regardless of what the issue is. Gun laws are a hot issue, and it’s entirely possible to report your point of view in a positive light without attacking the other side. It makes the issue seem more relevant, more important, and the speaker comes off as respectful and intelligent.

Try reading a news article on an issue you don’t agree with. Find the positive points in the article. Then look at that issue again. I bet you might find a bit more to the issue than you originally thought. It may not change your perspective; in fact you might find yourself more on the other side. But, if you can find a well-written, well-researched article, you will be educated.

And it all comes down to education.

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