Good News Isn’t Good News

Good News
Courtesy of Oatsy40 (Flickr CC0)

Good news these days feels short to come by and yet still so very needed. It is an understatement to say that America isn’t ok right now. That America as a people is suffering and that it isn’t looking good for them right now. This is why stories with good news in them can be so enticing. To break away from the endless doom scrolling and all the bad news for once feels good sometimes. However, there may be something wrong with a lot of these “Feel Good” stories. The undercurrents of oppressive systems can be seen if one picked apart a lot of these “Feel Good” stories.

In 2019, Hailey(14) and Hannah(11) Hager achieved something incredible. They raised money to pay off school lunch debts within their districts. This story is amazing and inspiring at first glance. However, there is something wrong with this. Children shouldn’t have to pay for food at school, especially since they are at school for a third of their day. Children shouldn’t go eight hours without eating, so it makes no sense why schools would make children (and their parents) pay for something those children can’t live without. How can a child learn when they are hungry? This isn’t a good story.

Good News Hiding Systemic Failure

This is evidence of systemic failure. Stories like these portray tragic issues like poverty-induced child hunger and spin the story around. Yet these kinds of stories never give any lip service to why these systemic problems are even there in the first place. For example, if there was a story about a child helping the homeless it would end up becoming a feel-good type of article. That article wouldn’t go into why homeless people exist. It would just be an article about a child helping homeless people, and the piece would be consumed without a second thought. But one should give it a second thought. Why do these sorts of articles exist? What purpose do they serve in society?

Good News
Courtesy of Rae Allen (Flickr CC0)

“Good news” isn’t really good news. Good news articles serve a specific function in modern American society. It is easier to spin a horrible systemic failure into a heartwarming story than find a good story. These stories have a specific purpose, however. To say that one could simply charity away, fundraise away, or simply reform away a systemic issue is wrong. For example like homelessness, one cannot just fix homelessness with a simple charity fund. Reality is ruled by cause and effect. To continue the example, homelessness in America could be stopped with a systemic holistic approach to combating the causes of homelessness. However one of the things stopping things like that from happening is the feel-good stories.

Good News Against Progress

Feel-good stories prevent progress by pushing the narrative that things can be fixed with individual reformist efforts. The systemic problems of modern American society are too complex to be fundraised away. A systemic, and holistic plan is in order if one if a nation wants to solve a major problem like health care costs. While it is good that these people are helping make the world a better place, a drop of Kool-Aid powder in an ocean doesn’t make the ocean into Kool-Aid. Though quite helpful, individual efforts will never be enough. Things like charity and fundraising are supposed to supplement more systemic action pushed for by the masses. It is time to make some good news happen. No more good news. No more feel-good stories about children fighting oppression.

Instead of reporting on these types of stories, people could report on union victories or successful protests. Raising awareness of the active struggle for better working conditions or positive changes in communities is important. While it may not be blindingly optimistic it is realistically optimistic. With these kinds of stories, people can become inspired and gain hope more organically. Seeing another human being struggle for liberation is quite beautiful. This is the real good news.

Written by Kenneth Mazerat
Edited by Sheena Robertson


Yahoo: Inspired by Kids Without Lunch Money, Sisters Sell Lemonade to Pay Off District’s Lunch Debt by Char Adams

NewYorkTimes: Homeless in America by German Lopez

Activisthandbook: Direct action by  Joppe Hoekstra

Featured and Top Image Courtesy Oatsy40‘s Flickr Page – Creative Commons License

Inset Image Courtesy Rae Allen’s Flickr Page – Creative Commons License

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