Breaking News

Last week,  the weather app on my phone showed sun icons across the board.  As if three cherries had come up on a slot machine. Jackpot, spring had arrived!  Everyday temperatures would be above 75 degrees. The children clamored to wear shorts to school. Walking the dog would feel like a treat versus a cold chore. Visions of  firing up the grill and relaxing on the patio filled my head.

Then this breaking news alert came in from the New York Times:  “Summer may never be the same. Infections like Lyme Disease, dengue and Zika that are spread by ticks and mosquitos are soaring, CDC says.”

I guess we can’t have nice things… like the warmth of the sun.

Appreciating, journalism’s duty to inform and prepare its readers for potential harm, I couldn’t help be taken aback by the timing of this report.

We couldn’t even say hello to good spring weather before being told in the first sentence, “Farewell, carefree days of summer.”

In fairness, these diseases are serious and are on the rise. At the same time, the total number of people getting diseases transmitted by mosquitos, ticks and fleas is less than 100,000. This may seem significant, and according to the CDC, may be vastly under-reported. But to put this in context, we are a country of 325 million people.  So as a percentage, .03% of people are impacted.

So while this may be newsworthy, is it “Breaking News Worthy”?

Why should we care?

It is hard to move up in life, when we are constantly bombarded with news that brings us down – whether that be about politics, economy, world affairs or well, the weather.

Recently, the journalist James Fallows offered an alternative outlook in this article in the Atlantic. The subtitle of which was “Americans don’t realize how fast the country is moving toward becoming a better version of itself.”

In the piece he describes what he and his wife discovered after traveling across the country and talking to Americans in towns we often describe as left behind.  Moving beyond the corrosive talk of politics and the din of national news he describes a more promising future where people are coming together to build stronger communities and a better future.

Interestingly one of the solutions Fallows suggests is spending more time and money investing in local news – where these bright spots can be shared and spread.

On that note, I think I’ll turn off my breaking news alerts and instead grab a copy of our local Rivertowns Enterprise to learn how our local towns are fixing things.  The sun is supposed to be out again today, so maybe I’ll even read it outside and enjoy this beautiful weather.

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