News of another newspaper launch which promises nothing but “good news” appeared on my radar this morning.
According to HTFP, the 6-page free colour tabloid now being distributed to 20,000 homes and businesses in the borough of Redcar and Cleveland will concentrate on “enterprise, activity, events and good news stories”.
Of course there’s nothing new in seeking out positivity – for years editors of local and regional newspapers have wrestled with different ways of answering their readers’ oft-stated complaint that the local paper is full of grim bad news with tales from the courtroom and crime releases given undue prominence.
I even have a hazy memory of an editor who wanted to signify positive stories with the use of a smiley face motif, and it’s become commonplace for plenty to regularly reserve front of paper positions for the fluffy animal or “…..and finally” option.
While “good news” is always a completely subjective matter (one woman’s economic development boost is the next man’s environmental catastrophe) it seems there’s a trend towards this type of publication at the moment.
In the North West, Big Spark publishing is busy getting it’s Independent offerings onto the streets promising “all local news, all soft news” with three recent title launches.
Perhaps these publishers are genuinely picking up on a reader appetite for something other than the never-ending gloom and doom of the economy and war or maybe, as their critics suggest, they will prove to be short-lived and perceived as being full of “puff”.
Just look at some of the comments already received at HTFP: “No-one is interested in council puff stories – that’s why council newspapers don’t work”, “Not all interesting stories are negative, but most of them are, and to act any differently is just ignoring what journalism is all about and arrogantly trying to prove a non-existent point.”
I haven’t had the opportunity to actually read any of these new titles (I’d be interested to hear from anyone who has) so I’m not in a position to comment on the specifics, it’s the stated aspiration which concerns me.
News, as most people comprehend it, can never just be “good” – there will always be uncomfortable truths to be told and any publication which prides itself on reflecting some semblance of reality surely needs to contain light and dark, sunshine and shadows.