THE news media are, for the most part, the bringers of bad news… and it’s not entirely the media’s fault, bad news gets higher ratings and sells more papers than good news.
At least that’s the theory.
More than a century ago in Kansas, a publisher of a newspaper was arguing with his friend, a pastor named Dr Charles Sheldon. The publisher said he felt no newspaper could be edited as Christ might have edited it and still be readable.
Dr Sheldon disagreed and the publisher, God bless him, said ok you can edit the paper for a week and we;ll see,
So for one week in March 1900, Dr Sheldon took over the editor’s chair and tried to imagine how Christ would have acted in the role.
Under Dr. Sheldon’s editorial guidance, all stories of scandal, vice, and crime were played down. Not omitted, but reduced to what the minister felt was their proper length. Society-page news, gossip news, was condensed to almost nothing. Theatrical news was dropped. For the 1st time, perhaps, in newspaper history, virtue and goodwill became hot news. Editorials were moved to the front page, and each was fully signed.
Sheldon wouldn’t allow advertisments for products whose claims he couldnt personally verify.
A great famine in India, ignored or treated casually by the competition press, was headlined by Dr. Sheldon–not only headlined but followed up by an appeal for the distant sufferers. As a result over $1 million in food and other relief supplies was sent to Bombay.
On the final day of his editorship, Dr Sheldon took news of the day off the front page and instead printed the sermon on the mount.
Amazingly, the experiment was a success. Circulation for that week rose dramatically.
But in the end the publisher said a newspaper selling good news or spiritual news could not succeed in the long term.