Something new and topical happened here in the UK yesterday. Something that doesn’t happen very often. A new printed newspaper was launched called ‘The New Day’. The introduction to the paper on the inside first page states, “They’re launching another newspaper? But we have the internet now. They must be daft.” I must admit, I did wonder. But as I read further and then proceeded to read through the print, it became clear that this is indeed something different.
To start with, they are claiming that they will have no political bias, which must be a first. Then, in another bold and refreshing gesture, they have the audacity to promise the following: “And we’ll have good news not just bad. Like life.” Furthermore, their stories are intended to interest readers, not to impress other journalists and they intend to make everything in the paper either useful or beautiful. Ideally both! The main article on the front page, but actually placed inside the paper is about the thousands of children, as young as 5, caring for adult parents and relatives. As if to live up to the initial promise, this article itself sports a balanced mix of good news and bad news. The heart-warming stories of young kids doing the washing and cleaning the house for their sick parents is weighed against the lack of support and care given to these household heroes.
Further in to the paper, we have a full page spread on the European referendum. On the left is the case for Britain staying in the European union, and on the right, the case for leaving. For those of my US readers who are not aware, on June 23rd, the UK will hold a referendum to decide their future with regard to the European unity project. Finally, I have to grit my teeth and read about Man City beating my unfortunate Liverpool in the League Cup. Even their account of the game is pretty fair, and that coming from a very biased reader!
If you are looking for an in depth source of analysis or a repository for journalistic awards for the written word you may be disappointed. However, there is something refreshing about being able to read the news in 30 minutes from front to back and derive a good feel for what is happening both positive and negative around the country and further afield. As someone who will only be in the UK part of the year, I am a little disappointed I will not have access from the internet, but I will enjoy seeing its progress on our visits here.
I sometimes wonder just how well informed we are. The traditional media outlets are clearly influenced heavily by their political allegiances, though at least they are fairly clear on where they stand. The problem with the internet is the lack of verifiable sources and the sheer weight of information and opinion. As a follower of Jesus, I believe it is vital that we learn as much about what is going on around us. Why is that important you might ask? I believe much of the church, especially in the US, is represented by two diametrically opposed philosophies, neither of which is really good news for the world. On the one hand, there is a large group of ‘Christians’ who believe this world is going to ‘hell in a hand basket’ and the sooner we die or are raptured out of here the better. Then I observe the other camp, who believe that the good news mainly concerns a kind of aspirational self-improvement program granted to those who speak the name of Jesus.
The real good news, I believe, should feature a world that is being transformed for the better by a bunch of self-sacrificing radicals who believe it is better to serve others than themselves. The church was meant to be a revolutionary force for good that is impacting the sort of people and their stories that inhabit papers like The New Day. I am challenged daily by how little difference I am making, but being aware of what is going on with my fellow human beings is inspiring me in some way to think about where I might serve more effectively. We need reliable sources of information to educate ourselves on what is happening around us and how we can be good news in it. I wish The New Day success in their inspiring new venture.