By Grant Wright, CEO
In the media, sometimes truth is distorted. I don’t mean journalists lie, although that can happen. But I do mean that some aspect of the truth can be emphasized more than others, leaving an unbalanced impression of a situation.
PR pros are typically engaged to emphasize the good for client partners, and occasionally we’re called upon to mitigate the bad. All this message shaping extends in a broader sense to what society consumes every day in the form of “news.” Personally, and professionally, I think the state of journalism in America is abysmal. For example, when CNN provides “breaking news” that is not fact but instead speculation from an unnamed source, it should be called neither “breaking” nor “news.” It’s definitely not quality journalism.
In aggregate, the penchant for the negative – if it bleeds, it leads – is at an all-time high. Were an alien to visit America and listen only to major news outlets for a week or even a day, he/she/it would probably conclude that America is a dangerous place where little good happens and humanity mostly cares about Donald Trump and the Kardashians.
But I think there’s a much brighter reality to the current state of affairs than the news has far too many people believing. In 2015, there were dozens of good things that happened we heard much too little about, or their significance was lost in the din of negative media bombardment. Just a few examples of many are:
Global poverty continued to fall – the World Bank announced that for the fist time ever, fewer than 10% of the global population now lives in abject poverty. Just 25 years ago, one-third of humanity lived with barely enough to subsist. We’ve of course much further to go, but the good news trend is clear and profound.
Almost 200 countries, including China, signed an unprecedented climate accord. There is finally global, cohesive recognition that humanity cannot continue on the current course of planetary abuse and expect to hand the planet to future generations the way we found it. Yes, Earth has a natural assimilative capacity to soak up carbon, but it’s not infinite. That 2015 was the year we finally seem to be coming to our senses is something to feel good about.
Tons of advancements! Just one in 2015 is that humankind took close-up, high-def pictures of a planetary body only 1,400 miles wide but more than three billion miles from Earth! We flew a craft to Pluto, didn’t forget to take the lens cap off and beamed photos billions of miles back across space. But I think the biggest tech accomplishment is the aggregate of technology continuing to flow information ever more freely around the globe. It’s increasingly difficult for dictators to fool their citizens, and humanity to ignore the plight of millions of refugees from man-made and natural disasters.
Whether it’s the country of Paula designating a new marine reserve the size of California, Myanmar/Burma finally holding elections, violent crime in the USA continuing to decrease (35% less than 20 years ago), Ebola being defeated in Africa, same-sex couples in America finally having the right to marry or the U.S. women’s national soccer team winning the World Cup with a record-breaking 27 million American TV viewers… a great deal of good happened in 2015.
It is these positive developments of 2015 I reflect on, and why I’m optimistic for 2016.
Sure, more bad things will happen, messages will continue to be shaped and the media will continue to obsess the negative. But this doesn’t mean there won’t be a concurrent reality of extraordinarily good things happening, too.
Information transparency will continue around the globe, we’ll be one year closer to self-driving cars and ending the 36,000+ deaths on American roads each year, technologies like 3D printing will spawn exciting new industries and there will be more breathtaking scientific discoveries.
At (W)right On, our continuing growth is founded in our willingness to embrace change with gusto, leadership and optimism. I can’t wait to dive into new opportunities this year and continue to do our part to help leave the world just a little better of a place than when we inherited it. How about you?