Good news is all around, just look

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, September 2, 2009

Elmo, Big Bird, Bert and gang always had the right idea — getting to a place where “everything’s A-OK.”

The very words of the “Sesame Street” theme song imply, however, that many not-so-OK places exist.

It’s been a fact of life since before the 1969 debut of the show that bad things surround many children — and adults.

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And in the newspaper business, it’s our job to report the bad along with the good.

In a month’s time we’ve had two murders, a struggling city budget, swine flu, bad test scores and car wrecks.

The headlines have sometimes been depressing.

But in that same time period we’ve had two award-winning teachers, an inspirational football game, national recognition for our town, new business openings, improved school test scores and more.

The headlines have sometimes been encouraging.

Yet, we are all much more likely to remember the brutal murder of Clark Felton than we are the passion for teaching Eric Stewman exhibits.

The bad, scary and disappointing sticks out in our brains.

The good news doesn’t stir up fear or anger, so we let it float out of our heads.

That’s exactly why some smart editor long before my time started what we internally call the “good news” editorial. You’ve seen it in this newspaper each Monday for years.

It’s a day we’ve dedicated to pressing the pause button on the bad.

We devote one staff editorial a week to ignoring the latest political shenanigans and simply pointing out the good news that occurred in the previous week.

We never have a lack of items to include. In fact, we usually have to exclude some of the good because there simply isn’t enough space.

Yet, I still hear the phrase “you never read anything good in the newspaper” at least once a week.

With all due respect, the folks uttering those words simply aren’t reading this newspaper.

Take Tuesday’s paper for example. The story receiving the largest portion of the front page was one — with photos — about West Primary teacher Charm Powell. Powell recently won the Mississippi Parent Teacher Association’s Educator of the Year title.

Also on the front page is a story about St. Mary Basilica purchasing the former First Baptist Church building downtown. Some folks will disagree, but this story is largely good news for Natchez. The existing building is a dangerous eyesore. St. Mary is a trusted institution in town. At worst, they’ll make the site a parking lot, which is arguably better than the current state of the property.

Flip to page 3 and you can see Patrick Anders Sr. and his amazingly large squash — certainly not bad news.

On page 4, the Natchez Downtown Development Association invites everyone to attend fun First Friday festivities.

Jump to the sports section and you’ll read about the district champions, Trinity softball girls. Four other sports stories highlight the accomplishments and goals of area athletes.

Do the math and the ratio of local stories/photos on good things to local stories/photos on bad things is 9 to 4.

Sunday and Wednesday papers — when a Life section is published — see the number of “good” stories double, while the “bad” stays about the same.

So while no town in America is exactly Sesame Street and the Miss-Lou certainly isn’t always A-OK, the air here is mostly sweet and the clouds are few and far between.

We just need to realize it.

Julie Cooper is the managing editor of The Natchez Democrat. She can be reached at 601-445-3551 or