I don’t know why I read the news. I only want good news. I scour whatever site I’m reading for stories that reassure me society is functioning and generally moving in what I consider the right direction. All my scouring and reading usually leaves me with a vague unease, which I must then soothe by finding something to do that helps me forget about what I just read.

I should know better than to look to the news for reassurance. That’s not its job. I don’t hold journalists responsible for this, by the way. A journalist usually arrives in the middle of a story. If you’re a writer you know what’s in the middle of every story. That’s when the problem that started around the first third of the tale gets much worse, when it starts looking as though all hope might be lost, that the villain’s mad plans might succeed after all, that the girl and the guy just couldn’t make it work.

These are the moments that get journalists’ attention: the scandal, the murder, the civil unrest. The beginning of a story rarely gets a journalist’s attention. The problem is hidden from view, disguised as normal life. The affair is just a long night at the office, the killer a strange loner, the protesters a group of students debating in a café. Nothing to see here. You might as well be writing about a river running.

Sometimes endings get attention. The scandal’s fallout, the killer’s sentencing, the policy that changes or doesn’t. These will always be less satisfying than fictional endings. The journalist is saddled with everyday life, which keeps going and going and going. Every ending begets a beginning, and every story has a word count – life does not.

If I were a journalist, I’d write about middles. Easier to see and capture, I’m sure. I must remind myself of this when I’m reading the news. The middle of a story is where I’m meant to be upset, where I’m meant to worry and doubt. What hell to be stuck there forever, forever unsure, forever waiting for the axe to fall. The good news is this tension is unsustainable. I am always reassured when I find myself at ease for no other reason than I turned my attention to something interesting, something I find curious, something I want to make. Now I’m moving in the right direction. It isn’t always newsworthy, but it is the truth.

If you like the ideas and perspectives expressed here, feel free to contact me about individual coaching and group workshops.

William KenowerComment