Thanksgiving thanks to optimist-journalist Charles Groenhuijsen (attached video) for “amplifying the good without forgetting the bad” amidst a sea of media that leans towards amplifying the bad while minimizing the good.
I liked this video so much that I transcribed it. Here is the main website for BrightVibes. Here is a GoogleDoc containing my transcription where I highlight my favorite parts. I will also paste it below.
“Good news is no news,” that’s the message most journalists want to give us and that’s a dramatic mistake.
I’m Charles Grouenhuijsen. I’ve been a journalist for over 40 years. We have to realize that journalism is like a mirror.
Our viewers, our readers look in this mirror and they’re supposed to see the world as it is and they don’t.
They see a mirror which is fogged up. It’s always the negative side of life and I try to correct that mistake a teeny tiny little bit.
What I try to do as a journalist now is give a more long-term perspective. What I see on TV all the time is a lot of noise. “Breaking news!”
I like to focus on silent revolutions but they are extremely important in the long term.
I’m an optimist because I look at facts.
I think about the decline in extreme poverty.
It’s unbelievable what we accomplished in the last 25-30 years:
* More than 100,000 people every day who come out of extreme poverty.
* I think about child mortality. (Infant deaths have halved since 1990)
* I think about average life expectancy (In 1960 the average life span was 52.6 years. Today it’s 72 years.)
* I think about average health in the world that has, you know, improved tremendously
and people don’t know it.
Sometimes I compare journalism with raising children. We raise children in a way that brings out a positive sides in them; things that do well. Imagine us as parents always saying to children what they’re doing wrong. If that’s the only message we have for our children they’re gonna end up as miserable people and negative people and probably angry people but this is exactly the way we treat, as journalists, the world because we say to the world “this is horrible, oh, and tomorrow will be even worse — with refugees and immigrants with crime with everything.”
The consequence of this negative attitude is that people look at the world in a very negative way very often. It plays into the fear of people. It makes them scared and angry so it’s not just saying journalism is so negative it has huge consequences for society and for political choices.
The basic difference I have with a lot of my colleagues is that they tend to amplify the bad stuff in the world.
I would go for the opposite: amplify the good without forgetting the bad.
There’s some huge issues, of course, and challenges: I think about the climate crisis, immigration inequality but at the same time the progress in so many fields is unprecedented.
When it comes to education, when it comes to our basic human rights and sexual orientation — for women and for children and people don’t realize it. If you steer it away from the negative, focus and steer towards a more positive, more constructive way of looking at things.
I think journalism could make a better world. The problem is journalists don’t consider to be the basic task to make the world better and maybe there is the basic difference of opinion I have with a lot of my colleagues yes we are here to make a better world people should realize that being pessimistic about the world is a choice that optimism is a choice as well it gives more energy and eventually with that kind of energy we can make a better world for ourselves, for our children our grandchildren.