Editors: The problem with good news...

2012-11-23 22:08

Johannesburg - Though most newspapers report on good news, it is often difficult to do or hard for readers to notice, a conference on the role of the media heard on Friday.

"We report good news all the time, but think back on the terrible medicine you were given as a child by your grandmother... and you can recall all the precise details," said Mail & Guardian editor Nic Dawes.

"You don't recall all the orange juice that slips down gently. There is plenty of good news in our newspapers, but it doesn't annoy you... It doesn't get its hooks into you like bad news does."

City Press editor Ferial Haffajee said most media organisations did not do enough good news.

"It is very hard to do for a journalist. I think our instinct is to be muckraking and to go to the underbelly, when in fact there are a lot of wonderful things happening," she said.

"At City Press we insist that every page has something beautiful and delightful. I'm sure you miss it in between all the Nkandla and tenderpreneurship [stories]."

Also discussed was the question whether the media had helped promote former African National Congress Youth League leader Julius Malema.

Dawes said the media reported on Malema because he "spoke on record" about internal ANC discussions and revealed the party's dynamics.

He said media often had a difficult time reporting on the internal dynamics of the ANC because most members were "not willing to speak frankly and in detail".

  • vera.platt - 2012-11-23 22:38

    The lack of comments on this story sufficiently proves their point...

      joe.mangena.1 - 2012-11-23 23:07

      because there's no one(anc politician) to attack here.

  • infijar.ken - 2012-11-23 22:43

    It's true, "Old Woman crosses road and lives" is hardly a headlines it? "old man dies" is hard enough. "Old man forces Ministry of Public Works to spend a quarter of a billion rand of tax ayers hard earned money on developing his personal property!" Hmmmm! Is that newsworthy?

  • JohncarlosBiza - 2012-11-24 00:03

    It's all a product of social engineering. They teach you how to think and process information

  • mfanah.radebe - 2012-11-24 03:47

    Bad news do sell the paper. juicy news for most people is the bad onez.

      Hilton Cupido - 2012-11-24 08:55

      a painting made it to parliamant and beyond, burning streets then demanding service, willing to give your life or take somebody else life for a few rand,courts full, family murder, 2 police commisioners corrupt, silent tenders then the world knows, president lying to the nation, all good but also bad , could have been prevented if one thinks for himself whats right and whats wrong

  • John.Yossarian22 - 2012-11-24 04:46

    Not sure I agree with everything in the article, but the amount of racist and angry comments that follow any bad news story certainly gives an insight into the anger present in our society. Probably a combination of our history, and present lack of honest leadership. Or any leadership, for that matter.

  • ben.spreeth - 2012-11-24 06:13

    I read the bad news because I am not good no matter how hard I try.

  • Montagnes.Bleues - 2012-11-24 06:27

    Well, it is reassuring that South Africa is still like a thick layer of sweet icing on an even flan and that the "Hundreds & Thousands" sprinkled all over it do not represent the hundreds and thousands of discontent citizens burning down municipalities, ticky tacky RDP townships and related skwattaheavens, schools, libraries, winefarms, mines, occasional indians businesses for insurance claims, and blackout spots where all the cable theft rents the sublime scene to a grinding halt, like the periodical Gautrain, in anticipation of the lack of forward planning and maintenance by the Black Broad Back Entitled Embezzlers that have pocketed all the coal and power ownership and are heading into a void unless the state gives them RTrillions today borrowed from 150 years into the future. Really reassuring.

  • douglas.reid.921 - 2012-11-24 06:55

    Leave the good news to the church (gospel).

  • theMichaelHawthorne - 2012-11-24 07:18

    That guy shouldn't be writing using words like knuckracking wtf

  • theMichaelHawthorne - 2012-11-24 07:20

    Maybe but it is still your choice to follow or understand and continue

  • tolo.maano - 2012-11-24 09:13

    The gud news leave it to sabc newspaper wher they gonna tel us dat zuma donate 100 blankets at the village near nkandla like we care

      boltonbarry - 2012-11-24 09:24

      A hundred balnkets.. Is that all

  • reoagile.motitswe - 2012-11-24 09:59

    make good news juicy news,bcuz u 2 have a resposibily to promote our country..

  • lindani.zulu.714 - 2012-11-24 10:08

    Good news my black ass... U never dig for sketons in white official's cosets. U are always after black people. Its not that white people are always clean, the media. Hardly go after them

      sven.gohre - 2012-11-24 10:57

      @lindani, you are a very sad excuse for a human, while most corruption is done by the CancER government and therefore in the news more often, when white business people are caught being corrupt they lose their jobs and go straight to prison. Unlike those black politicians that are suspended on full pay and then redeployed to another department so that they can continue feeding at the trough. As whites only represent about 8% of the population, it stands to reason that more blacks will be caught out due to their superior numbers. You need to either purchase a brain or start educating yourself properly. That is why libraries exist, free knowledge for those that want to learn, go get a library card today and start studying to improve your life for free.

      juannepierre - 2012-11-24 11:02

      Can you move that black ass to the side, it's blocking my view.

      jacqui.daanevanrensburg - 2012-11-24 11:16

      Lindani.zulu.714. Some education won't be wasted on you. There is much more to fill your mind with than racism.

      pgmdesouza - 2012-11-24 19:57

      Your spelling is horrible.

  • juannepierre - 2012-11-24 11:01

    A journalists version of good news is lame, there are inspirational stories to tell which never get told. But I also think it's easier, at present in south Africa, to tell bad news because things are bad, politics today is more of a joke than it's ever been but maybe that's what SA is famous for, embarrassing politics?

  • jacqui.daanevanrensburg - 2012-11-24 11:14

    I am trying to remember when I read good news in the paper lately. Nothing comes to mind, but then neither can I remember the orange juice after a dose of castor oil either.

  • mart.botha - 2012-11-24 11:34

    ...and now that you have mentioned newsfaker Jules Malema, I have found a sponsor who will pay for D.N.R. to be tattood on his left chest above his nipple.......we can tell him it stands for 'Dynamic Nationalist Revolutionary'......

  • Mohaola - 2012-11-24 11:36

    Why our journalist never investigated Dr V.Basson as they are doing to Mr zuma and his crew ,is it because of thier socio- economic status or colour they are even afraid of interviewing them(whites)or our journalist having hidden agender against blacks there's nothing wrong on exposing anything wrong but let us not see it on blacks only

  • esther.coetzee.50 - 2012-11-24 13:09

    A turd with icing is still a turd

  • steuart.pennington - 2012-11-24 14:09

    It may be true that newspapers like planes that crash, not planes that fly. And it may be true that newspapers are 'just ordinary businesses trying to make a profit' to quote the editor of Business Day. But they constantly present themselves as paragons of virtue and purveyors of the truth 'Our duty is to bring you the truth' boasts the ST and the Independent News. They hold before us their Press Code that requires they present the truth, in context and with balance as they defend themselves against criticism and/or harmful reporting. So what is the reality of our print, radio and broadcast media? They mostly live by the credo 'if it bleeds it leads' and 'good news is no news'. I'm okay with this, but don't patronize me with 'we bring you the truth' or with a lofty Press Code, given the choice between a really 'good news' story and some 'juicy scandal' you know which way you'll jump. As Ferial herself said 'the narrative of dysfunction in this country is nauseating and filled with self-interest'. Sadly we are not a nation talking to ourselves, we do not, in our media, celebrate the good and confront the bad - we just dwell on the negative. Sadly, in truth, our media are just ordinary businesses, very ordinary, trying to make a profit - and struggling to do so because the public has started looking elsewhere to find out what's going on. Witness the declining circulation numbers.

  • steuart.pennington - 2012-11-24 14:23

    If you want to read some 'good news' visit We celebrate the good and confront the bad and are read in 195 countries around the world. We are not sunshine journalists, but we do focus on the positive, after all there is massive choice if you want to read/watch/hear the bad news. There is stuff to celebrate every day in this troubled country of ours, not the least of which is the HUGE contribution ordinary citizens, like you, are making to our future. And 'yes' good news does sell, our 40 000 readers and 15 000 Twitter followers support that! Maybe one day when our democracy matures we'll engage with each other on 'what IS news?'

  • pages:
  • 1