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Why Report On Negative News?

There is a need to report on the negative as well as the positive.

Recently a reader of the Haverford-Havertown Patch asked why negative news seems to triumph over positive stories.

And it does seem that way and more than one reader has asked that from time to time.

From Francis Cavone, who was charged for allegedly having a collection of child porn on his computer, to Michael Donohue, who resigned from being a prosecutor with the county District Attorney’s Office after authorities charged him in a hit-and-run case, to house fires and accidents, it does appear that negative news gets reported on more. 

But there are reasons for it. It is a news organization’s responsibility to report on the bad things that happen in our community, to the best of its ability. By reporting on accidents, people know which routes to avoid if roads are closed and by covering crimes people can take extra precaution to protect not only themselves but also their loved ones.

And as a society, it would be irresponsible for us to pretend that nothing bad happens. As 17th century Archbishop John Tillotson is attributed as wisely saying, “Ignorance and inconsideration are the two great causes of the ruin of mankind.”

But a lot of good can come from reporting on the bad. For example, 14-year-old Jake Vantrieste who has suffered a brain injury after allegedly being struck by Donohue received a to help pay for his mounting medical costs.

When the Reynolds’ Family home on Manoa Road was nearly destroyed in a fire last year, family, friends and members of the community came together and held a fundraiser for them.

And why did all of these good things happen? Because many people heard about these horrible incidents from the news and word-of-mouth and decided to do something about it.

But good news is also being reported, but it seems as if some people are either not aware of them or ignore them entirely, or heavily criticize these stories, calling them “fluff pieces.”

Which is unfair. People should know about , a deaf and autistic young man who makes it his mission every Christmas Eve to deliver baby formula and supplies to needy children.

And readers should be made aware of Shane Ryan’s excellent swimming achievements or even little who was selling Girl Scout cookies at the Manoa Shopping Center. Also, even a bit of good news in these tough economic times needs to be read, such as when at least eight job offers were given by last summer.

Also, while not all town or school board meetings can be exciting, people should be made aware of what is happening in their community. After all, politics is like vegetables: They may not be tasty but you need them.

It is a news organization’s job to report on the news, good, bad or indifferent.

But making a bad situation better or a making a good thing great is also up to the community.

Karen Lollis June 18, 2012 at 07:51 PM
Good comments. But I think the underlying reason that news is heavily negative is because that's what makes it news. I mean, most people go through most days without being directly impacted by the kinds of things that make it into the news. It's precisely because an event is outside our normal day-to-day experience that makes it news in the first place.

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