Article - Good vs Bad News

Have you ever had the feeling, when reading national newspapers or listening to the radio or watching the TV - or, indeed, receiving news through websites or social media - the world is composed entirely of bad news?

Certainly, I find it amazing anything around us is actually pleasantly or enjoyable or functioning properly, given that every event going on around us is presented as some kind of disaster in the various media. 

I am told by friends in the media that the reason for this otherwise bizzare mismatch between our everyday experience of the world and the world we see pictured in the news is that good news is no news.

But one of the advantages of a column like this is that I am under absolutely no obligation to contribute to the sales of this admirable local newspaper by providing some additional bad news. So let me take the daring step of advancing the hypothesis that (while we certainly need to know about the bad news where it exists) there is some reason also for being interested in the good things that are going on around us all the time. 

I saw three of them in Dorchester last week. 

The first was a really rather wonderful new enterprise that is already winning awards for the new high-tech software it has produced to increase the security of the systems used by schools and other institutions in order to protect children and vulnerable adults. This seems to me an example of everything one could hope for in the new global Britain that we are all trying to create - a successful business in the modern knowledge economy that is using British know-how to win export orders and is at the same time performing a valuable social function. 

The second good news visit was to the glistening new buildings of Damers School, which laboured for years under the disadvantage of crumbling infrastructure and is now both charming and palatial. 

The third visit was to the newly refurbished Shire Hall - a celebration of our heritage and an attraction for thousands of tourists. 

Could one be for forgiven, perhaps, for just a little optimism when seeing these things? 

And would it be too terrible a crime against modern news-values to remind ourselves also that a trip down the road from Dorchester to Bridport would enable us to see the resplendently renovated Literary and Scientific Institute, now proudly reminding the town of its industrial history and adorning its high street with a fine old building that has brought the best of modern architecture and modern technology to the service of the community and to start-up businesses that will enrich the community. 

And if I were feeling really outrageous, I would go so far as to add that the memorial service for Lord Digby held recently in Sherborne Abbey was one of the most beautiful and moving things I have ever seen. But I really must stop this litany of good tidings.