Friday, 11 May 2012

Positive News

Image: NS Newsflash
As they say, "No news is good news". And I've found that one of the ways to keep a positive outlook is to ignore many of the stories in popular media. I still read newspapers occasionally, but I'm careful which paper I buy. I don't like to start the day on a negative note if I can help it.

A surprising number of friends have adopted the same attitude, saying that many news outlets seem to have a negative tone. And it can be difficult to tell a real news story from marketing and political "spin".

I'd like to share a great example that I encountered last week. We were with some friends in a local pub at the time, when the barman started talking about the news.

He had read in his newspaper that 1 in 5 convicted criminals in the UK are residents of other countries, and the majority of those are from Poland. Someone at the bar overheard. "That's ridiculous", he said, "all those foreigners coming over here to commit crime".

I pointed out that, by the same figures, 80% of convicted criminals are UK residents. And only a fraction of the remainder are Polish nationals.

A few people's eyes widened. "Oh yeah...". There was a sudden realisation that the shocking news story wasn't shocking after all. It was, I suspect, written by someone with a hidden agenda. Now, hopefully, no-one will be suspicious of the Polish customers who wander into the pub. Or the locals who buy imported Polish beer.

This all reminded me of a legendary story from the cold war era, where a car race was organised between two teams, from America and Russia.

The Americans won the race, and the US newspapers reported that the Russians lost. However, the Russian newspapers reported that the Russian team came second, and the American team was next to last.

Both stories look like they have opposite views, but in fact they are presenting the same facts in completely different ways. Just goes to show that there's always another side to the news.

Photo credit: Newspapers B&W (4) by NS Newsflash, CC-BY licence, via Flickr

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