Letter: Now some good news

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The Independent Online
Sir: How refreshing to read Martyn Lewis today urging television news to report more positive events. His key word is 'uplifting'. The traditional diet of horror and disaster feeds that morbid curiosity we have, based on our fear of such things. It also offends our basic sense of justice.

The question of balance, therefore, crucially affects the impact of media reporting on public consciousness. Imbalance progressively warps attitudes. After 30 years in education, I am more than satisfied that children's attitudes are significantly shaped by what they meet in the media.

Some years ago I persuaded the editor of my local paper to accept a letter telling how a woman gave up her right of access to a phone box to enable me, obviously in a hurry, to make my call. I recall his scepticism at this wish to see good news published, and even at the local level it was not significantly uplifting. Mr Lewis reminds us that other good news abounds that should be heard. The shift of emphasis must be sincere, purposeful and sustained. Above all, it must be calculated. The media surely know by now that it is not just a mirror of events, but a powerfully shaping and creative agency.

Yours sincerely,

MERVYN BENFORD

Shutford, Oxfordshire

26 April

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