Monday, July 15, 2024
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Juiced up on good news

Journalists have a reputation for having a somewhat ghoulish obsession with bad news, particularly incidents involving injury and death – something that’s exemplified by the old school media maxim of “if it bleeds, it leads”.

That’s a fair call up to a point, although for the most part [leaving aside the occasional sociopath who crops up in a newsroom] the way in which ‘the news’ tilts towards the negative is largely driven by consumer demand.

If one examines newspaper sales and, more recently, online viewing metrics, the appetite of the majority of the public for stories about various forms of disaster or bad behaviour is too clear for media companies operating under any kind of commercial imperative to ignore.

That doesn’t mean most of us delight in the suffering and misfortune of others, however. Instead, we can take comfort in the pretty truthy sounding theory of evolutionary psychologists, who posit that humans’ demonstrable interest in ‘bad news stories’ is due to a hardwired trait that compels us to learn as much as we can about potential threats to ourselves and our loved ones. Because the world was an obviously brutal and unforgiving place until relatively recently [now it’s just more subtly so], they reckon those with a preference for tales of rainbows and rousing choruses of “kumbaya” tended to produce damn few – or any – descendants.

In any case, at the risk of provoking cries of “fake news” from readers, most of us ink-stained wretches don’t really relish knocking out this kind of material day in and day out [if you think it’s demoralising reading such stuff, you should try writing it].

All of which is an extremely circumlocutious way of leading up to noting that earlier this week I was very pleased to have the opportunity to knock out a completely positive story about Alan Stewart’s success in buying back all the assets of iconic Wairarapa company Hansells NZ.

As I understand it, it’s been a long drawn-out process to get to the point of sealing the deal, with a fair few setbacks and frustrations, so kudos to Stewart for staying the course and securing what is an unqualified excellent result.

As Stewart noted when the sale was announced, “This is a great result for the Masterton community and the wider Wairarapa district.

“Not only is it good news from an employment perspective, with the expected increase to go from around 60 to over 80 workers, it is also an important development regionally as the future of this legacy business is made more secure.”

On a personal level, this story was particularly pleasing to me because I have fond memories of working as a storeman at Hansells in the summer of ’87/’88, before leaving Masterton to head off to university and then the wider world for three decades.

Perhaps my recollections are tinged with the golden hue of nostalgia for long-lost youth, but I recall the staff there being warm, welcoming and patient towards an occasionally feckless kid who was getting his first taste of a real workplace.

I wish those who get the opportunity to fill the new positions opening up there the same rewarding experience.

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