A Little Good News

Published 3:37 pm Sunday, November 5, 2023

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There was a time in my life when “the news” was at the top of my list of must-see TV. I’m still interested, greatly, in what goes on in the nation and the world, but I’m watching less news on television than I ever have. It’s not so simple to say that there is nothing but bad news on, but that’s one reason.

            Wars and rumors of wars are all around. I don’t have to hear from a news anchor about inflation. I went to the grocery store just yesterday and bought two items: bread and butter. It took the better part of a ten-dollar bill. The sieve that is our southern border continues unabated and it’s not just poor people looking for a better life.

            Forty years ago, Canadian songbird, Anne Murray released a song I have never forgotten, We Sure Could Use a Little Good News Today. Its opening line was about a popular newscaster, Bryant Gumbel, “talking about the fighting in Lebanon.” Following that was a line about a senator “squawking about the bad economy.” I guess some things never change.

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            It’s interesting that I am thinking about this today. I get most of my news from reading and not watching. I looked at a website that has nothing but news articles. They rotate the articles so that both sides of a question can be seen. In other words, one article will take a liberal view and the next will look at the same subject from a more conservative point of view.

            I will admit that I like the conservative side better than the other, but I also appreciate an opposite opinion.

            The first article I saw this morning was entitled, “Sick and Tired of the News?” It turns out that I am not the only person taking a step back from television news.

            Just yesterday, I was changing the signage at one of my churches and recognized a truck as I drove up. I looked out and saw a familiar person visiting his family’s graves in the cemetery. I went to speak and the subject of television news came up.

            “I hardly watch it anymore,” I said.

            “Neither do my wife and me,” he replied. “There’s no more Uncle Walter Cronkite telling us ‘That’s the way it is.’” I smiled at his reference of the old days.

The article I read pointed to the attitude that I stated earlier. People are simply weary of hearing nothing but the bad news. It mentioned violence, corruption, and political division.

            In addition to the subjects covered in our newscasts these days, the article said that Americans are “fed up with the news media itself.” In other words, it’s not just the bad news; there is also the trust level that we apply to the ones who give the news.

            My friend had referenced a journalist, Walter Cronkite, who we trusted. I’m sure we were more naïve in those days and Cronkite was giving the news in the way CBS wanted him to, but his pleasant demeanor was such that we made a habit of watching him.

            Nowadays, the news anchors seem to be more readers than journalists and much more opinionated than we want. It’s that trust level that has caused so many of us to cut back on our television news watching.

            Decades ago the choices were few: ABC, NBC, and CBS. With cable television came cable news networks. Too many to shake a stick at. The irony is that more news networks has not made the news business better. The divisions they cause makes us just want to throw our hands up and not watch any of them.