Today, no newspaper would do a feature story on "whether to beat your wife." Attitudes changed dramatically. But how would a reporter cover that? I suppose one might say, "Today in Pittsburgh, six people changed their opinion about wife beating." But no reporter would write that. He wouldn't know who those people were. Even if he did, such gradual change is not what people consider news.
A car crash that kills a family is terrible news. But gradual improvements in driver behavior, car and road safety, and attitudes about drunk driving should be even bigger news. Driving remains one of the riskiest things we do, but far fewer people die now.
Science that lengthens lives, innovation that enhances them, increased tolerance and fewer deaths in wars are great news. But, day by day, reporters barely cover that. Where would we point our cameras?
The news is biased not just because reporters are politically biased but because most good news happens gradually. We instinctively perk up and take notice if someone says, "The White House made an important announcement today," even if that announcement is trivial compared to slower social changes.
We use the phrase "slow news day" almost as an insult, as though important things aren't happening. This, in turn, affects the way we think about politics. While life incrementally improves, activists promoting almost any cause angrily chant: "When do we want it? Now!"
Bad things happen in an instant. The good news usually takes time. Reporters are usually clueless about it.
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