Wednesday, 26 October 2016

Do as I say, not as I do

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Like many of you I have a smartphone that regularly posts alerts of news as it happens with succinctly-written pop-ups. This service is an unsolicited add-on if you have downloaded the apps of NZ Herald, One News and Stuff. The brief messages are invariably tidings of bad news with murders, car crashes and violent assaults dominant.

It’s part of our human nature that compels us to eagerly absorb these catastrophes.

We read recently where suicides are reaching almost epidemic proportions and I fear our constant diet of doom and gloom wouldn’t be helping this sad statistic.

It’s no good blaming the news media, they simply serve up what the public demands. I must confess when I go into a supermarket or other places where newspapers are sold I peruse the front page to decide whether to buy or not. A salacious headline is likely to positively influence my purchase.

I had first-hand experience of this some ago. I used to subscribe to a newspaper called Challenge Weekly. This was published by some evangelistic churches in Auckland and the content was most uplifting. I had a call from the editor one day who had noted I was the only subscriber in the Wairarapa and wondered would I perhaps like to become their agent down this way and see if I might increase their reader base. I agreed, but made no sales. It seemed no one wanted to hear the good news. Sadly, I too tired of the praiseworthy narratives and eventually let my subscription lapse.

Challenge Weekly is available on line and I note that to maintain interest it is now inclined to run the occasional adverse article.

But let’s examine last week’s bad news stories. Apart from the sombre suicide statistics one correspondent believes we are on the brink of World War Three. Another news item warns us that Germany’s Deutsche Bank is teetering after receiving a $US14 billion fine from the U.S. Department of Justice which could evolve into another global financial crisis. Poor old Pumpkin Patch, once one of this country’s most admired stores, has announced its own financial crisis and owes the ANZ Bank a small fortune.

Americans are reeling over the possibility that the worst possible president imaginable might be elected to lead the free world. There is little comfort in the fact that failing this, the second worst possible person to be president will be elected instead.

Closer to home Auckland holds this country to ransom with its various crises that include house prices which must inevitably collapse to the detriment of the whole country, and poverty stricken children and citizens living in cars and on the street. They then elect a man, whose own political party didn’t want a bar of, to lead them to the Promised Land.

North and South magazine recently called them “The city of fails.”

Re-reading this I realise I am hoist by my own petard. Having complained that the media is only interested in conveying bad news stories, I have done the very same thing myself.

Reminds me of the old saying; “If you can’t say something good about somebody - then let’s hear it!”

“Though it be honest, it is never good to bring bad news. Give to a gracious message a host of tongues; but let ill tidings tell themselves when they be felt.” - William Shakespeare


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