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Read all about it: Good news is back

Jan. 15, 2013 @ 06:42 AM

Back when I was editing incoming foreign correspondence for The Associated Press in New York in the late 1960s, I noticed one day that someone was launching a “Good News Service.” The premise? Too much news is “bad news,” so why not do a service for American newspapers that featured only positive stories.

Hmm, I thought, wonder if such a service will survive? Within a year the answer was in: the Good News service had flamed out.

Stereotypically, it seems, most of us news consumers figure that, by and large, the news in any given period will be weighted toward the “bad”: disasters, shootings, drug busts, bitter political scraps, threats, accusations, etc.

Not so, at least not right now, says the latest edition of The Christian Science Monitor Weekly.

Under the headline “The Reason for Our Hope,” Monitor editor John Yemma spelled out some of the good news that probably hasn’t gotten enough attention in the media overall. “Extreme poverty is in decline,” he writes (worldwide as well as at home). HIV (AIDS) is no longer a death sentence.

Technology is transforming everything from African agriculture to urban transportation. Drug violence is decreasing in Mexico. Crime rates are falling.”

Now that Yemma has got me ruminating, I’m coming up with more on the plus side:

Haven’t we all noticed, with relief, that not only has the War in Iraq disappeared from our radar scope, but the War in Afghanistan is also winding down, with the great bulk of our troops scheduled to come home in 2014. Also, this is happening with overwhelming bipartisan support.

Despite a plethora of mass homicides in recent months — Newtown, Conn.; a Sikh temple in Oak Creek, Wis.; a movie theater in Aurora, Colo. — overall death rates from gun violence nationally are indeed down from the horrific rates of the 1980s and 1990s.

Chicago hit 501 homicides by Dec. 31, 2012, almost all by gunfire, and local citizens were upset. 

However, most of the violence was gang-related and limited to a a handful of neighborhoods. 

What’s more, even 500 is a long way down from the Windy City’s 1994 homicide rate of 929.

New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg was able to announce recently that his city’s homicide rate in 2012 — just 414 deaths — was the lowest in 50 years.

Huntington’ s crime rate is down too, in fact, at its lowest point in decades, according to police reports. Kudos to Chief  Skip Holbrook and HPD.

The economy is still chugging along through a recovery from our Great Recession of 2008-09, and with unemployment down to 7.7 per cent, the U.S. has marked 35 straight months of private-sector job growth. Prospects for continued growth, reduced unemployment and a stock market of 15,000 or higher are among predictions I’ve been seeing.

Auto sales are booming and most new cars have greatly improved capacity for miles per gallon in the low to mid 30s. Possibly as a consequence, prices at the pump have been hovering well below the $4-$5 range we’d all been hearing about — and fearing.

A comprehensive immigration bill, with broad bipartisan support, also looks to be on the horizon, with Florida Latino Sen. Marco Rubio, a Republican, teaming with others of his own party and also Democratic colleagues to lead the way.

By and large, the 113th Congress is shaping up as more pragmatic, less rigidly ideological, than the much-lambasted 112th. So from tax reform to gun control to immigration to education and a host of other issues, cross your fingers but we just might have to raise our approval rating of our Congress people from a current 19 percent to something, well, more positive.

John Patrick Grace is a former reporter, editor and foreign correspondent for The Associated Press. He is now a book editor and publisher based in Huntington and teaches The Life Writing Class. His email: publishersplace@gmail.com.



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