"If you can't say something nice, don't say anything at all" is a cliché that some want to apply to journalism. I've heard all too often that we never report good news.
Commonly the ones who claim all we print is negative are guilty of overlooking the positive news we do print. Their eyes naturally gravitate toward "6 killed in crash" rather than "Volunteer raises $ for orphans."
Then, after reading the story on the crash, they curse the newspaper.
"Why don't they print any good news?" they say. "Isn't anyone going to do something for the orphans?"
Of course, there is evidence that people want to read good news. Gospel literally translates to "good news," and the Bible is the No. 1 selling book in history, especially impressive for something not part of Oprah's Book Club.
On the negative side, it is also the world's most shoplifted book. Probably because the Bible, unlike other best-selling books, doesn't have a synopsis printed on the back that might warn people the book will tell them not to steal.
Potential Bible synopsis: "'Love thy neighbor, no false idols, don't steal -- this book has it all,' the New York Times says," or, "'The most influential book ever,' says The Washington Post," or, "'A laugh riot,' say scientists."
But perhaps it's not the positive news that makes the Bible fly off the shelf. After all, it is a book that concludes with the END OF THE WORLD.
Staff writer Kevin Haas can be reached at email@example.com. If you're going to say something to him, say something nice or nothing at all.