MEDIAWATCH | John Sandeman
Monday 9 May 2015
Noni Hazelhurst, Playschool star and Australian actress, entered the Logie Award Hall of Fame this week with a speech that is going viral. Her theme: the media is bad news.
“We are living under a constant cloud of negativity. We are divided against each other and our fellow human beings. We find it hard to trust. And we are fearful for the future. And I think it is because we are surrounded by bad news and examples of our basest human behaviour. I fear that our hearts are growing cold.”
There’s one key exception:
“Playschool works because it reflects life as we actually live it and the people on it are real.”
Hazelhurst wants a good news channel.
“So here’s my pitch. I’d like a channel that features nothing but stories that inspire us. And reassure us and our children that there are good things happening and good people in the world.
“I know it is a lot to ask for. But at the very least, a show that tries to redress this overwhelming imbalance. That counters bad news with good. That encourages optimism not pessimism, and that restores our empathy and love for our fellow human beings, and the earth. That redefines reality. That heals our hearts. And by the way, I am available.”
A good news channel? This must stir a Christian response. Are we the kings of good news? Could we make it work?
The media landscape is littered with attempts to ruin “good news” outlets; newspapers from PM in New York in the 1940s to The New Day which closed last week in London. None lasted, or really got going.
There’s a proliferation of “good news” websites. Blessings.com offers cute, inspirational, heart-warming video with clickbait headlines.
“They’re married, but they live on the cab of THIS TRUCK, I thought it was odd, THEN I saw inside…”, “I thought she was making regular cupcakes, but when she showed us the result I was stunned.” They are often the weepy items that US newscasters like to put at the end of the nightly news. Like a Mom serving in Afghanistan turning up for their daughter’s special event at school. That kind of stuff.
The mighty.com specialises in uplifting stories of people living with disability. As someone who spends a lot of time at Special Olympics events, I am conflicted about this one. Sample headlines “A Tribute to Special Needs Moms on Mothers day” or “When My Teacher Used the R-Word Synonymously With the Special Needs Community”.
These sites are the closest thing to what Noni Hazelhurst is looking for.
Jesus gets a look in, occasionally. There are some stories of Christians making a real difference. Good works do glorify our father in heaven, still.
Eternity wants to tell good news, too. Right now, Christian media in this country is concentrated on looking inwards to our own communities, debating hot topics, serving the “rusted on Christian”.
But what “good news” stories can we tell? How do we make them work in the emerging media? How do we reach outwards?
Obviously the really Good news needs to be told. Along with stories of Christians living in the light.
But news is always old, in the sense that stories are built around old paradigms: conflict and celebrity being the most popular.
So there is a great challenge in working out the new forms of stories that will work with the sort of stories that should be told. Consider Eternity a giant working experiment. We are working on spreading the best news.
Got a good news tip? Maybe someone you know who has inspired you or your faith that you think we should cover at Eternity? Share it with us in the comments below.