We must lift up the good, along with the bad
By Nika Schoonover
Most of what I read is politics. Since I decided to be a journalist, that has always been my direction and, with that, it takes up the largest percentage of my daily news diet. But reading about politics isn’t necessarily fun for me. When I read political news, I’m studying. Memorizing key updates, mentally linking them back to other stories I have read on the matter and the larger context and studying the ways in which journalists write about the issues. But what I enjoy reading, to feel happy and inspired by others’ stories, falls more into the genre of “good news.”
About two-thirds of Americans feel worn out by the news. There is a lack of consensus, however, on news’ most negative traits. According to the Pew Research Center, 22% of Americans say the most negative thing the media does is report biased news, 18% say journalists make poor choices in what or how to report the news, 16% say the worst thing for news to do is lie, mislead or sensationalize, and 14% highlight too many reports on negative stories.
I love journalism and I love reading. I love stories that bring me into a new reality, one that I wouldn’t have acquainted myself with otherwise. There is an artistry to reporting impactful stories and many journalists out there have perfected this ability. One such story I’ve recently enjoyed is The Spine Collector, a piece done in Vulture by Reeves Wiedeman. This story peers into the publishing industry, detailing an investigation by Wiedeman into discovering the infamous manuscript stealer who shocked the industry in his insatiable need to steal manuscripts without a trace. As someone who’s always been drawn to the book industry, I thoroughly enjoyed this read about one culprit’s obsession with disrupting this industry and the writer’s own obsession into discovering just who this person is. Unlike a lot of journalism, Wiedeman is inserted into this story and is even targeted by the spine collector in the pursuit of uncovering this story.
I’ve also come to love efforts to center positive news amidst the plethora of negative and sometimes overwhelming news of the day. Block Club Chicago launched “It’s All Good: A Block Club Podcast,” hosted by Jon Hansen, in April 2021. The podcast seeks to highlight good news in the city of Chicago, inviting listeners to share their own good news stories with the Block Club team. I sincerely admire this effort.
While it is incredibly important to report on the essential news of the day, good or bad, journalists should make a concerted effort to provide their viewers with news that seek to lift positive community members. As I suspect is also true for many in the journalism field, I wanted to become a journalist to provide important information and news, but to also be an impactful storyteller. Storytelling is a uniquely human endeavor and it helps to unite our cumulative experience. Even for a genre of journalism, such as politics, in which the duty to inform is essential, storytelling in the political journalism field should be just as highly regarded.