Point of View: News should ignite desire for change

By Matt Larsen
Sports Writer

I do not care whether you take in news by reading a New York Times, browsing your Yahoo homepage headlines or simply overhearing the overzealous poly-sci major in your 8 a.m. class.

It doesn’t bother me if you learned of the Lady Bears’ Elite Eight run, the Libyan conflict and the Japanese earthquake from your news-savvy roommate before you turned to the Lariat. (Here’s a nice place to say thanks for reading the Lariat, though.)

What bothers me is how we respond.

If you’re anything like me, your news consumption is spotty at best.

I know. I receive any and all rebuke for being that journalist whose knowledge of current world events is limited to every other day’s headlines.

But both a college student with spotty news knowledge and the retiree who reads four papers cover-to-cover over his morning coffee tend to come away with the same picture of the world: bleak.

The most widespread critique of newspapers I hear from non-journalists is how depressed, gloomy, hopeless or [insert synonym here] reading the newspaper makes them feel.

My response: I couldn’t agree more. I do not turn to a newspaper to get a little pep in my step.

What’s more, I would be worried if people came away from reading a newspaper thinking the world was not chalk full of problems that need to be fixed.

While journalists have a responsibility to publish “the good and the bad,” the journalists have a responsibility to inform their audience of the information most pertinent to them, not create a picture of the world that makes everyone feel warm and fuzzy.

Warm and fuzzy articles have their place in the paper as do stories that inspire hope, but newspapers leave most people feeling dissatisfied with the world in which we live because the world in which we live should inspire dissatisfaction.

There is a reality of pain, suffering and death around the world that should not be hidden behind feel-good stories.

Readers should experience a degree of discomfort at reading about the massive yet never-clearly-defined number of deaths in the Haitian earthquake.

The discomfort, however, is not the journalist’s, God’s, President Obama’s or anyone else’s goal in the end.

No one desires for the Baylor or U.S. population to walk around in a state of constant depression.

The discomfort births compassion.

And yet compassion in and of itself amounts to very little. We need an outlet for change, an outlet where we can see injustices reconciled. We get injustice. It’s not a foreign concept.

Since the time we were toddlers fighting for a toy that was “rightfully” ours, we have known to appeal to the parental outlet with the power to effect change.

Our only problem now in a world of adults is where to find our parental outlet of change.

We are taught as Americans that our government is and always will be the righter of injustices and the bringer of hope to situations of devastation.

Yet, as our hands-tied government sat on the verge of a lock-down due to non-settlement on spending last week, I can’t help but think that our government was never supposed to be the outlet for change this world desperately needs.

We subconsciously call our vote our act of justice as we elect lawmakers.

Voting is important, but if we’re entrusting our policy makers to take down every stronghold of injustice around the world, I think we are vastly overestimating our government and misunderstanding its purpose.

Government is meant for protection and order. People are meant for change.

I am not saying every article you read must send you straight to Expedia to book your flight for the country most devastated by natural or unnatural disasters that day.

But let’s stop seeing government as our primary means of change when the world is nearly as full of churches (not to mention non-profit and other service organizations) as it is problems.

Churches, simply meaning the groups of people who call themselves Christians, by definition and design are meant to change the world.

So let’s go to work.

Matt Larsen is a junior journalism and religion major from Katy and a sports writer for the Lariat.