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Positive stories that aren't told

Many believe the media focus on the negative at the expense of the positive.

Of course, a case could be made that this is exactly what the public wants. The top 10 most read stories on our website last year all were decidedly negative – among them, a murder in Amboy, the indictment of Rita Crundwell and a resident charged in a prostitution sting.

Then again, we in the media give some indisputably positive stories short shrift.

On a recent day, the federal government released statistics showing that the percentage of students at public high schools who graduate on time reached its highest level in nearly 40 years.

That's impressive during sluggish economic times. If anything, one would expect more students to drop out and enter the work force to help their families make ends meet.

Where was this good news in the newspaper? In the Chicago Tribune, a small story made the bottom of Page 11.

Our focus is local news, so we didn't run the national story on the graduation rates. But maybe we should give more attention to local graduation trends. According to state reports, Sterling High School's 4-year graduation rate increased from 78.6 percent to 80.4 percent over the last dozen years, while Dixon High School's went up from 75.5 percent to 79.9 percent and Rock Falls High School's from 80.5 percent to 84.2 percent. The national rate is now 78.2 percent.

The dearth of positive news isn't limited to education. In all the clatter about crime, one fact is usually missing in the media: You're less likely to be a victim these days. The crime rate is at the lowest point in decades.

This positive trend contradicts conventional wisdom, which has it that crime spikes when the economy heads south.

Why is the opposite occurring? The answer is probably a story that needs to be told.

David Giuliani is a reporter for Sauk Valley Media. He can be reached at dgiuliani@saukvalley or at 800-798-4085, ext. 525. 

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