Well here we are
R2BC 6 Month Anniversary Special!
Alex, why the hell are you doing this & what are you getting out of it?
Well it’s the 4th of July; American Independence Day & the 6 month anniversary of this, probably crazy, dream to try and leave the world a better place than I found it by pointing out that it’s not all bad news. After half a year trying to be cheerful, and mostly succeeding, it seemed right to pause, reflect and take a look at the whys, and wherefores of the project and what I hope happens next.
So first up –
Alex, what the hell is making you trawl news sites for Good News?
The short answer is “because it’s worth it”.
Slightly longer answer is there’s far more to the world than the steady stream of negativity we get stuffed into us by 10 minute news bulletins or the front & back pages of newspapers.
If you’re still reading I’ll go into some detail as this idea actually occured to me a few years back, it’s taken that long for me to find the courage to take this forward and angry enough to keep doing it. I know #R2BC isn’t a new idea but I hope it’s making a difference.
One of the lessons that stuck with me from University is that context is everything and every news story we see or hear has an agenda or bias. Not just that of the writer but also of the editors, the owners, and advertisers right down to the individual reader/listener/viewer and how the piece is interpreted. Every news bulletin is constructed with a certain editorial policy in mind and if you watch enough bulletins from the same broadcaster end to end the formula soon becomes clear much like if you had to watch the entire series of a show like Quincy or Murder She Wrote in one day. The kinks, habits and foibles of the people behind the show, newspaper, blog etc. start to show through like the hidden image in a magic eye picture (he says dating himself quite badly). These points of view and attitudes have power, shape people’s perceptions and through them the world we live in, okay not exactly news but the context is important.
Driving to work each day I’d listen to BBC Radio 4’s Today programme and be left feeling depressed. I’d talk to friends and colleagues and all I could hear were people complaining about how bad everything was, how bad the UK was as a place to live, how people were ignorant and how we always lose at sports. I’d look at the news bulletins and see nothing but bad news, and if there was ANY good news it was usually something fluffy and meaningless. In particular I’d hear from friends about amazing sporting successes but the papers and reporters seemed to obsess entirely about soccer, with the occasional nod to rugby and little else.
I’d been mulling the idea for ages, but in February I plucked up the courage to try and do something about it and posted this up on my Facebook feed:
Each morning I drive to work listening to the Today show on Radio 4 and I’m left with a regular sense of impending doom; I check my Social Media Feeds & E-mails for stories of my friends joy and successes and I’m generally bombarded with rants, shared posters about evil government and how the economy is screwed; I glance at the front pages of newspapers in the queue at the canteen at work to see a steady flow of stories about broken relationships, corruption and death; I get home and turn on the TV to be assailed by images of horror and more news about the end being pretty much nigh. Now while a bit of an exaggeration it often feels like I’m not exaggerating at all or if I am only a little bit. So I look outside and see the sky is still there, I look around and see that no one appears to have suddenly dropped dead and that lunch is still being served.
So I am generally left asking if things really as bad as people keep telling me? Now, I will freely admit that as someone living in the developed west with solid qualifications and a partner I love to bits I have got it better than plenty of people in the world, but I keep getting told that we are all going to get it in the neck any minute now so I thought I would have a look and see if there was anything below the fold that it was worth mentioning. So here are some headlines you likely have not heard:
- Last week Baltimore Ravens Linebacker Bredon Ayanbadejo came out in support of same sex marriage.
- Today legislation to give same sex couples the right to marriage gets its first reading in the commons and should pass the first vote.
- <a href="http://www.bbc.co.uk/sport/0/rugby-union/21314354" target="_blank"In sports news the England’s Womens Rugby Team started their 6 nations with a 76-0 win over Scotland.
- US plans to allow women to fight on frontlines in the military.
- Barclays Bank Chief has waived his bonus.
- There’s genuine movement on regulation to protect against another collapse in financial institutions, and banks facing being broken up if they fail to comply.
- South Africa’s richest tycoon is giving half his fortune away to help the poor.
- Somalia has a president and a government that is slowly but steadily taking control back of the country with the support of African union forces. Bloke isn’t a warlord but a former lecturer.
- UK Got a manufacturing boost which should help the economy. I know that lots of people believe that we don’t manufacture anything in the UK anymore but we actually have an amazing reputation for producing amazing engineers and high end precision manufacturing. The Raspberry Pi Model B, the little computer that is taking the world by storm, was conceived in the UK and is now produced in UK with Google backing a project to supply them to schools to help improve the teaching of engineering, technology and coding.
- On a similar note Jaguar Land Rover had a record year in 2012 and are making serious plans for the future.
- The company that makes Black Cabs has had its future secured by a Chinese Car Manufacturer.
- While poor management may have let HMV down there’s a queue of companies wanting to buy the business and get it back trading with Hilco the company that rescued HMV Canada being at the head of the queue.
- One of the big challenges for green power like Solar, Wind & Tidal is that while they have great potential they often produce lots of energy when demand is low which cannot be stored for later. Last week a new Mega Battery was switched on in Texas as a potential answer to exactly this issue. This also goes along with the work on using such energy to generate hydrogen or compressed as alternative answers to the same question.
- Richard III body has been found in a great effort by Leicester University and other historians meaning we have found a wonderful piece of history once thought lost forever.
- For art lovers out there see great works of art are being given to the nation. Genuine treasures coming out of private collections.
- Biffy Clyro who had their first single Number 1 via Olly Murs have finally got a long deserved #1 Album.
Some of these are fluffy human interest stories, others have genuine impact for our lives and futures.
Remembering the eighties, nineties and noughties I don’t think I can remember any extended period of time when someone wasn’t telly me that something awful was happening or about to happen, weather it was terrorists, unemployment, impending financial doom, or certain death if your went to the doctors or used the NHS (Again exaggerating…a little). Recently a lot of the worst news has not come from revelations of past misdeeds, for me such news should not be bemoaned but celebrated as the truth comes to light and we can see how society has moved on and that people have a chance at justice. At some point something bad will likely happen to all of us in our lives. At that time you may well have to choose between staring into the darkness where everything will seem broken or impossible, or look to the positive, build on it and climb a little higher.
Hope everyone finds a ray of sunshine today.
check out Jake Bugg evidence that there is still plenty of good music
So where are we at Now?
Well 6 months on and I’m still doing this and while #R2BC hasn’t gone viral, raising massive ad revenues or made me famous it has been doing some good and definitely feels worthwhile.
Monday to Friday I dutifully whittle my way through the BBC News website looking for gems that make me smile. I started off on facebook but when a friend mentioned that their friends wanted to read it to I was asked to start a blog. There have been tough days, and I’ll admit to the occasional crisis of faith, wading waste deep in all that hate isn’t always easy, but so far I’ve always been able to find something good. Sometimes the stories don’t last and the guy you report breaking into the quarter finals doesn’t quite make it to the semis, but that’s okay. The idea here is to inspire and help people grow, to shine some light into people’s lives and importantly push something I believe in.
Having suffered with depression, and knowing plenty of people who struggle with it every day being able to point people at something that is genuinely good and not twee or banal is great. The fact that I have followers and friends who write to me saying thanks is also a buzz as honestly I thought I might be screaming at the wind on this one, but as it turns out people read the stories to their friends at work and I know that somewhere a bunch of people are better able to handle their day because I took the time to look a little deeper at the news. Importantly it has also underlined the fact that good news does not have to be twee or banal.
So where to now Kemosabe?
It’s hard to say.
This isn’t exactly well planned and the intention isn’t to take over the world. So long as I think this is actually doing some good I’ll keep writing. If I feel brave I may start contacting people like Huffington Post about making their human interest and sports news less one dimensional.
If there’s one thing I do hope for is that people will start sending me their good news, or at the very least being able to share theirs with friends, colleagues and neighbours.
We are social beings living in an amazing time, just sometimes we need to remember that and choose to make a difference.
I did, you can to.