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Who altered the meaning of news?

Written by  Tuesday, 09 December 2014 00:00

An awe-inspiring thought came to my mind as I opened the television to catch up with the rest of the world earlier today. One after the other the news reporter started to deafen my ears with nothing but a load of atrocious news around the globe. I sat down in astonishment speculating may be, just maybe I might end up listening to some good deeds we humans did for one another while I was sleeping, or about a neighborhood who did something noble, a plane that has landed safely, a peace agreement to cease combat and clashes for the sake of harmony, outstanding human beings taking care of kids and not raping them. I don't know my ears kept on longing for one nonviolent news to start my day with. Is that too much to ask from our world today?

Regardless of my frantic wish the anchor goes on saying, and I quote, “ a mother of a baby boy in Sydney, Australia abandoned her one day old baby and dumped him in 2.4 meters drain in Quakers hill this morning”; “A 29-year-old British man accused of murdering two women in Hong Kong has been remanded in custody. Rurik Jutting was arrested after police found the victims in his apartment in the Wan Chai area early on Saturday. One of the women died days before her body was found in a suitcase, court papers said”; “A suicide bomber has killed at least 45 people at a volleyball tournament in eastern Afghanistan, officials say.”


The list goes on and on. I jumped up from where I was sitting and googled the word ‘News’. I thought maybe I am unaware of the correct meaning, or time has transformed the context embedded in this seemingly new terminology I considered as familiar. Luckily, the meaning remained the same. According to one article I read on the internet which is based on myth, the word “news” derives from the four cardinal directions, North, South, East and West. While this potential origin of the word news seems plausible enough, it isn’t true. The truth is, the word news can be traced back to late Middle English around the 14thcentury as a plural for the adjective “new” or “new thing”. This is a somewhat rare instance of an English adjective becoming a noun when made plural. Making this leap from “new” to “news” in English is thought to have been influenced by the Old French “nouveau”, meaning “new”. “Nouveau” in its plural feminine form becomes the noun “nouvelles”, meaning “news”.


Before the 14th century, instead of using the word “news”, English speakers typically used the word “tidings”, more or less meaning the “announcement of an event”. This Middle English version started before the 11th century and stems from the Old English term “tidung” meaning “Event, occurrence, or a piece of news”.


Our formal dictionary defines the word news as, ‘newly received or noteworthy information, especially about recent events.’ So I kind of was wondering; when did we become selective? When did we ceased from spreading good news around the globe? When did the world stopped inspiring the world by teaching us from the goodness of people around us? When did the news become all about what is going wrong rather than right?


The worst barbarities are getting coverage on every press out there, one news channel followed by the other. The father who raped his daughter, the fraternity boys who gang raped their peer, a child who was murdered by his own mother and Civilians are being killed in massive numbers in the Israel-Gaza conflict. Others are falling prey to Ebola in West Africa. The world, in short, is falling apart………..what is going on? What are we supposed to do with all of these saddening information? What are we being fed every single day? What are we getting our mind accustomed to? The mediocrity, absurdity and doom hovers around us 24/7. What’s the psychological impact of all this exposure to tragedy at a distance?


I by no means is extremist, I’m not saying you need to ignore the fact that millions of people are living through hunger, disease, civil war and brutality. By all means, go help them. Do what is expected of you. But when are we going to introduce moderation and selectivity in to our life style? When are we going to mix and match what works for us? If the media is not fair by addressing both sides of humanity, one should take accountability of choosing what to feed his/her soul about the little blurry goodness existing out there, somewhere. Am I suggesting for us all to be negligent? No, but “Test everything, hold fast what is good. Abstain from every form of evil.” 1 Thessalonians 5: 21-22. The news by itself may not be evil, but rather the result.


Could years and years of contact to hostile news amplify our trust in a Manichean world and in turn make us more reactionary? Not saying ignorance is bliss; but I leave you with one question, from one confused girl to all of you out there, “How will consistently listening to negative news elevate anyone? How good will it really do to this nation?” speaking from a different point of view, somehow this conga line of bruising news has made us engrossed to bad news and threat. We naively crave for what is going wrong rather than right. We tend to disregard the inner impact that comes along with it, such as; depression. Consequently, we will become more fearful than happy. And each time we experience fear we turn on our stress hormones. It is mesmerizing to witness even those people who seem to develop allergies for television & newspapers like my own mother are getting hit with nuggets of negativity through social networking and informal conversations.


Enough said, I think, there has to be some sort of stabilizing method for all these.


We can chose to focus on the glass being half-full; that is, “your eye is the lamp of your body. When your eye is healthy, your whole body is full of light, but when it is bad, your body is full of darkness.” Luke 11:34. We can learn to acquire new personal habits, we can reprogram our brains to thinking there sure is some goodness out there, we can enhance our golly with our personal encounters with whom we ever have contact with, and we can chose to reflect God. God is good, and as his children we must learn to mirror him. I, you and all of us can make difference step by step. Who knows this might in turn encourage our media to deliver a balanced and multi-dimensional point of view.


“Like cold water to weary soul is good news from a distant land.” Proverbs 25:25. It sure was not without this astounding reason that earlier writers of our scripture specifically chose the terminology of “good news” in such a “bad news” world we dwell in. In contrast to the reality, our bible spread the news that all these problems confronting our world has an end, with the word of God we can clearly see that there is forgiveness, peace, love and help. To end with, the Bible says that God is in control. It says there is a boundary to how far God will permit humankind to go and will ultimately step in and say, “Gentleman, that’s enough.”


“Good news gives health to the bones” Proverb 15:30


From a girl who knows little,


Seen 12616 times Last modified on Thursday, 11 December 2014 12:54
Beza Kassahun

Child of the most high Adonai, a daughter to my parents and grateful wife to my husband. I am by nature an enthusiastic writer, And with formal education a Sociologist and Social anthropologist. Welcome to my frontier, the one and only soothing act I discovered by far, Writing and Reading.

International Relation courses - Malmo Sweden University

Sociology & Social Anthropology - Addis Ababa University

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