“Nattering nabobs of negativism” was a phrase originally written by speechwriter William Safire for U.S. Vice President Spiro Agnew to describe the media who opposed the Nixon administration’s policies. It’s an apt phrase for the professional pessimists in the media, especially these days. What’s considered “news” or reported as “reality” is overwhelmingly what’s wrong, not what’s right. “If it bleeds it leads” is an old truism in the newspaper business. Random acts of violence are reported in great detail while random acts of kindness go unnoticed. Unemployment rates are reported as reaching 8, 10 or 12 percent rather than employment rates of 88, 90, or 92%. 40% chance of rain we’re told rather than 60% chance of sunshine.
Will Rogers, the Cherokee-American cowboy, humorist, and social commentator, once said “I hope we never live to see the day when a thing is as bad as some of our newspapers make it.” In his book, Is Progress Speeding Up?: Our Multiplying Multitudes of Blessings, highly successful investor (Sir) John Templeton writes, “…people today, on the average, are better fed, better clothed, better housed, and better educated than at any previous time. Fewer and fewer people live under the weight of tyranny. In most parts of the world, people are enjoying longer, healthier, more fulfilling lives.”
I daily read a few news websites and weekly scan about a dozen others. I am interested in what’s happening around the world. I also look for research and examples that I file in my electronic database – and use in my work. Through years of training and habit building I’ve worked hard to look beyond the sensationally negative headlines for all the good, positive, and progress we’re making.