Daily Egyptian

Opinion: Why we leave the bad news for the front page

By Anna Spoerre, @annaspoerre

Every Daily Egyptian front page headline the week following Easter depicted detailed recent shootings — one a homicide. Monday’s paper ran a story on another gun-related crime. Violence aside, the front page of the DE more frequently reports on the state’s financial disaster and how it is affecting the university. 

The DE, like most news organizations, has received a number of complaints about how it chooses what news to cover and highlight on our front page. Why isn’t there more uplifting content beneath our nameplate? Why have we so extensively covered these crises?

This raises the question: what is a news organization for then?

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Apart from having the civic duty to inform the public about what’s happening in their community, are we always supposed to give readers the happiest news to feel warm and fuzzy inside so they can continue to live in a bubble of ignorance? We don’t think so.

Have we as a society become so sensitive and self-centered that we have thrown our social responsibility out the window? We hope not.

News organizations shouldn’t exist primarily for entertainment, or God forbid, to act as a public relations agency for universities or police or governments.

Rather, news organizations should inform, raise awareness of the harshest realities of the world, no matter how tough to stomach.

Aren’t these stories the ones that raise questions, stir emotions and elicit change? Aren’t they the topics that move people to action that often gives us the content for the feel-good stories tucked beneath the inner pages of the paper? 

Think about every uplifting story you’ve read: breakthroughs in cancer research, marches to end gun violence, college students who spend their spring break building homes for the poor in Brazil. You’d be hard-pressed to find a feel-good story without some sort of tragedy at its core.

So how should you approach the news? All we ask is that you come to it with a curious, critical and open mind.

We don’t report on news to appease your opinions and provide entertainment. We write to start conversations. To get our audience fired up. To get our readers thinking.

We do this because it is important.

And if we succeed in getting this message across to you, you might begin to see not only the news differently, but the world differently.

Don’t take this wrong, with all the chaos in the world, we need glimpses of light as reminders that the world is a beautiful place and that humans have good in their hearts. And, let’s be honest, we all need something to motivate us to get out of our safe, cozy bed in the morning.

Remember: If we live an oblivious, uninformed life, only exposed to what we know from our own culture and routine, we will remain as naïve as we were when we walked into our Kindergarten classrooms — focusing more on how dull our crayons were than on why the new student sitting across from our desk had tear-streaks down his face.

So the next time you pick up a DE, don’t think of the front page as a message that the world is falling apart, but rather as an opportunity to mend what is broken.

Anna Spoerre can be reached at [email protected] or 618-536-3325.

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