• Morgan Fagg

Is No News, Good News?

Updated: Mar 29

(Read on Athlone Community Radio)

They say, "No news is good news" but clearly they have never tried working in a newsroom, and I found an interesting comment this week in the back of an Ernest Hemingway book that said,

"The papers were bad reading. Everything was going very badly everywhere."

The book, Farewell to Arms, was written over a century ago about The Great War and it is hard to imagine what it was like for people 100 years ago, as the war ended and the plague raged.

Known as Spanish Flu, the "Chinese virus" of our day, the pandemic had not actually originated from Spain but I believe from the USA but as America, Russia, Germany, France and England fought, censorship prevented them from discussing the spread of disease that didnt help their cause, as soldiers were mobilised like never before, and then returned to their homes.

Spain before dictatorships, didnt censor the virus and must have seemed like the only place where there was illness. Over a 100 years ago, Ireland didnt even exist as a country but the Rebellion of 1916 inspired other rebellions around the world, and Russians started to fight for revolution and rebelled.

European empires fell and a new Superpower was created in America where the colony became a very powerful postwar powerhouse. At the start of the decade, America began 13 years of prohibition on the 17th of January 1920 where bars and restaurants were closed or forced to stop selling alcohol.

The speakeasy was born and I wonder how many sheebeens were built in the back of Irish gardens in 2020, as Ireland now celebrates another dry Saint Patricks Day.

Things were different back then and I read recently that the word, "Doomscrooling" has been added to dictionary.com. The word became very popular last year with the pandemic and the idea is that we are scrooling through our online feeds of Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and Youtube for some bad news.

The fact that it says scrooling shows how our news consumption has changed since the days when Ernest Hemingway was reporting on world events, and as I put down Farewell to Arms and pick up another one of his books called Byline, I wonder what insights I will find about life 100 years ago.

These are interesting times we are living in, and while social media, keyboard warriors and online gossip might give us an endless amount of Doomscrooling, at least we have been able to work from home, bingewatch tv, and communicate like never before.

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