Friday, July 18, 2008


Recently the Romanian Senate unanimously voted in favor of a law that would require fifty percent of the news reported by media outlets in that country to distribute “happy news.” One senator, from the opposition Social Democrat Party (PSD), argued newscasts show too much of the "dark side of life". The Romanian's National Council for Audiovisual Broadcasting is to validate the law - under which it will have the responsibility to decide what constitutes good or bad news. But the Council swiftly criticized the law. "News is news, it is neither positive nor negative, it simply reflects reality," said the Council's president, Rasvan Popescu.

Good news is a good idea. All you have to do is watch mass media news at night to witness that there's about a minute and half of positive news reported. Why do we have inspirational speakers who constantly tell us that if we believe and stay positive then good things will happen to us? Then there's the old adage about "looking on the positive side of life". Well that's no easy feat when the media is so negative.

I recognize media conglomerates have to make money, but what's so wrong about good old inspirational stories? There's a ton of them around. Stories that make us laugh and feel good about being human. If big media isn't going to tell them, even a quarter of the time, maybe there should be a law to ensure that daily we see good things about good people.

Perhaps it's just not possible. Humans have been drawn to hype and negative news as far back as the
Socrates and Salem Witchcraft trials. Today we are lucky to have many news sources to gather our news from. We owe it to ourselves to verify whether the information we get is accurate, and to accept listening and reading different opinions and sources than the tried-and-true that we habitually listen to in agreement. And with the advent of the Internet it’s never been easier.

If a magazine can offer Pitt-Jolie 10-15 million dollars for photos of their twins, then we know what the majority of the people ultimately want. Who's to say that if the media were forced to report fifty percent of the time on positive things that anyone would even watch or care? I still think there’s something to be said about “good things”—and not just tips from Martha Stewart. Positive stories are out there—we just have to search for them. Hopefully in the age of Youtube we might just see those good stories begin to develop when all the silly pet and baby tricks have trended downward.