Finally, the tide seems to be turning, just a little and Campfire's own 'Conscious TV' initiative is an excellent example. But there are other aspects of the news which are equally as disturbing as negative reporting and which are not being discussed...
For 15 years, I abstained from the news. I didn't even have a telly for most of that time. The only connection with a world beyond my own life was 'The Week' - a 40 minute read which summarised all the key global news from the previous 7 days, plus a lot more which is a great little publication.
It wasn't always like that. For the first 20 years of my professional life, I was an avid consumer of news, including the financial media as I worked in that sector. But I became disillusioned with the unrelenting menu of negativity, drama and hysteria which had become the stock in trade of journalism. This was coupled by the rise of celebrity journalists whose opinions, often based on no credentials whatsoever, claimed more column inches than the experts and who bullied and berated their interviewees on TV and radio to score points with the sole purpose (or so it seemed) of inflating their already gargantuan egos. Meanwhile, the politicians and senior figures being interviewed were opaque to the point of uselessness. The whole thing was exasperating, depressing, totally lacking in respect and integrity and I didn't want anything to do with it.
So I subscribed to a quarterly newspaper called Positive News (which has morphed into an authoritative magazine today) to get a fix on the good stuff and I also started delving into the wonderful library of video talks on TED.com.
I have always been extremely positive about the world we live in. I grew up at a time where any number of world leaders could have put their finger on the nuclear button and started a war which, almost certainly, would have led to Armageddon and the destruction of our planet. In fact, this was prophesied by many sources including ancient ones. I didn't believe, for a minute that it would happen. I always felt that despite massive evidence to the contrary, we were on a path towards a better world. For me, the tipping point came in the late 80's when we were teetering on the edge but a 'wild card' event that nobody predicted, namely the fall of the Berlin Wall, ended the Cold War and changed the fate of humanity. The 'doomsday prophecies' have become obsolescent.
A fundamental part of my own outlook is that 'we don't know what we don't know', so anything is possible. Conversely, if we expect the future to be based on what we do know ie. what's happened in the past, that's exactly what we will re-recreate. So, back to my decision to abstain from the news. Basically, I chose to withdraw from unnecessary external negativity and focus on the task in hand. Creating my own business ventures over the years was challenging to the extreme and it took everything I had – mind, body and soul. Staying balanced and mentally sharp for the duration was hard enough without the drag factor of negative news.
Finally, the tide seems to be turning, just a little and Campfire's own 'Conscious TV' initiative is one excellent example. But there are other aspects of the news which are equally disturbing as negative reporting and which I have not seen discussed anywhere, perhaps because we have grown so accustomed to them that they have become our new (actually, not so new) norm. One of these is 'non-news'. Everyday, the number of 'non-news' news stories which appear on BBC online outnumber the real news stories by a large margin. Since when did a school asking parents not to buy Christmas presents for its teachers become national news? And this is the second time the story has appeared (albeit two different schools) in a week.
The other issue is repetition. The news now tells us if a key story is going to break later that day (for instance, an important report or a government announcement) and not only that, it actually tells us what it's going to contain. It then tells us when it happens (in detail, obviously) and it also tells us what it told us again, later on. At the very least, this feels like brainwashing, though more likely it's just space-filling as news is such big business these days. If I ever listen to the radio whilst driving, it's even worse as I can't be selective and I am subjected to the same story on the hour. The media has become a circus and it's perilously out of control.
One simple fix for space filling would be to include positive stories instead and report some of the amazing things happening in our world which are finding solutions to global issues. Other worthy stories would included the courage and compassion of our fellow human beings who find themselves in crises and the discussions that are happening about re-shaping our world – politically, economically, socially, environmentally and every which way. This costs nothing, it simply requires a different mindset and a change of subject and what a power for good it would be. It could provide inspiration to others to follow suit, to find solutions to problems in their own lives, to think outside the box and become more compassionate towards others.
Taking control of your life just a little bit has the power to reduce stress and improve health. Who says that balanced reporting of bad news and the inclusion of good news won't sell papers or drive web traffic? Perhaps it will increase both.
Fast forward to the present day and, once again, I follow the news. For one thing, the internet means it's easier to be selective and, for another, I am not involved in the cut and thrust of business any more but living a rustic life in the sticks which enhances my balance rather than challenges it. But the main reason I am following the news is that I am looking, with some excitement for unexpected events that have the potential to change our world and they keep on coming, though it's not always obvious that this is what they are.
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