There is a theory readers are only interested in good news.
That bad news sends the fainthearted running the other way from their evening paper or from newsracks around the city. Some think war news coverage fits the so-called "bad news" criteria.
Don't get me wrong. War is never an easy subject to cover, let alone something preferred in terms of death and destruction for combatants and civilians alike.
But knowing what your government is doing is important, following the stories and lives of the troops is important, knowing what is going on the neighborhood, the community, the state, the region and the world is important.
Many people have been glued to nightly television broadcasts for updates. It's not just the regular news junkies anymore. Even the television journalists have been displaying the still photos and observations of print reporters.
If good news was the only thing people wanted to hear there might be work in America for the Iraqi information minister who doled out good news at the expense of fact at nearly every opportunity. Most government officials would love the news reports everyday instead of cringing on occasion when the not-so- "happy" news makes headlines.
If we lived in those perfect communities as seen in the Walgreens commercials, good news -- which should actually be equated as happy fluffy stories -- would be the standard of the day
But in reality people need to know facts to make decisions about their daily lives.
In Iraq, print journalists have given the scene-setting details of living through the sandstorms, daily bathing rituals without much water and stories of the real people behind the uniforms and those living in Iraqi cities. Those are details Americans should be acquainted with as this nation is now asked to help rebuild that war-torn country.
Recently a group of Brainerd print journalists were captivated by the sight of Iraqi citizens trying to use rope and a hammer on cement to dislodge a giant statue of Saddam Hussein, a man who was so obsessed with his own image that finding a statue to tear down seems fairly commonplace.
One of the things that helped keep that dictator in place was the lack of free press and the lack of reporting on news that was not government controlled. One of the first things the country will need in rebuilding is a free press. There are times news reporters will be annoying. Times when they will become more "news personalities" versus working reporters as in the case of Geraldo Rivera. But for the most part they'll work hard to get their facts straight, to confirm stories with multiple sources and to do so with the knowledge they won't be popular. But they will be doing a public service. And that is the job in a nutshell.
Most stories are combinations of good and bad news. The best journalism gives people a better understanding of their community, their country and their world.
If no one ever reports a system is broken, how will the citizens not directly affected know they need to fix it? There are inspiring stories of people overcoming obstacles, of lending helping hands, and of the unexpected. Worthy options all. But to suggest it is better for news readers, listeners and watchers to put their proverbial heads in the sand if the news of the day is about a war, a conflict, or other hard news is to underestimate the very people the news reporter is working to serve.
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