Good news everybody, it’s bad news!

Professor Hubert J. Farnsworth from the TV series FuturamaThere’s a saying: “no news is good news” which, in the days before telephones and e-mail, was used when a lack of information (“no news”) indicated that nothing bad had happened (“is good news”).

A while ago now, I was discussing (free registration required) an exposé on Mercy Ministries that appeared in the Sydney Morning Herald. The journalist implicated Hillsong Church, and I argued that the paper often used these kinds of opportunities to speak negatively about them. I evidenced my point with a list of search results for the keyword “hillsong” taken from, demonstrating how the majority of articles that mention the church are unfavourable. (Do not fear! This isn’t going to be a religious discourse.)

One respondent was unconvinced, saying “you do realise that most articles in the news aren’t positive, right?” As much as I don’t like it, he’s probably correct. The saying from the top of this post could, in today’s world, be more accurately parsed as: none of the information presented (“no news”) is an agreeable report (“is good news”). In other words “all news is bad news.”

The News industry wouldn’t survive if they weren’t able to supply a constant stream of compelling information, and it seems the topics people find most interesting are stories of miserable things happening to other people. Is it possibly because it makes our own miserable lives seem less so? (Why am I talking so much about miserable things lately?) We live in an age of cheap, instant communications, but this only seems to help propagate more bad news (and bad jokes).

I think that’s why my online reading list doesn’t contain any news feeds. For me, no news is good news.