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Thursday, June 19, 2008

The power of positive thinking

Ten days sampling the Aussie media has left me pondering the power of positive thinking.

I recall how some years ago, ITN news presenter Martyn Lewis was laughed at for suggesting that British news was too negative and could benefit from being lightened up with positive stories. Images of front pages about cats saved from trees filled the heads of his cynical colleagues and they chuckled.

I did too.

But it is true that the British media environment is a profoundly negative and mean-spirited one. The Irish media climate is little different.

I've noticed this especially here in Australia, where they are prepared to put a story about a medical discovery or a community initiative on the front page without apology.

In some other places I've been, the positive news can seem seriously parochial. Israeli papers see little beyond their own siege mentality, as if everything on the planet related to the Middle East or Jewish affairs, even when the story is something light-hearted or positive, for example.

But Australia is a heavyweight country with a large, cosmopolitan, travelled, multicultural society. And if they can make positive news work, both on the airwaves and in print, then why couldn't we?

I'm slightly dreading returning to the land of scandal as substance and negativity news, now. I fear the face of Ireland I'll see in our media will seem scowling and mean in comparison to the optimism - tempered by reality and proper coverage of current events and affairs, of course - that is expressed in Australian media.

And without wanting to seem simplistic, I wonder if the media mentalities of both nations can perhaps be mapped onto the nature of the peoples who read them?

Are Australians outward-looking and positive can-do people inherently and that is expressed through their media? Or does the media perhaps encourage such an outlook in those who view and read it?

And by contrast, what does our own sour, negatively troped news say about us?


If you ask me... said...

Must be why Australians never have crazy race riots on beaches, nor elect right-wing nut-jobs as their PM.

JC Skinner said...

Thrtee things in response.
Firstly, relevance?
Secondly, we'll be next in line for the race riots, you wait and see. And anyhow, if a load of a specific ethnic minority went around gangraping young girls and boasting about it in Ireland, I'd be inclined to cause a riot about it too.
Finally, what right wing nut job? It's a bit rich to complain about Aussie governments given that Ireland is pretty much the only democracy on earth that has ONLY EVER elected crazy right wing governments.