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In the Newsroom

April 17, 2009
Sharing the good news with you

The Worldfocus signature series on Liberia’s Long Road Back featured uplifting stories on African women making a difference.

Though a common saying about news is “if it bleeds, it leads,” Martin Savidge shares some of the more cheery stories that have uplifted the world recently, including Worldfocus’ signature series on Liberia’s Long Road Back

When times are bad we all yearn for good news.

This week had plenty. Two stories in particular dominated: A courageous crew and a singing Scot.

The actions of the crew of the Maersk Alabama — and particularly the selfless offer of Captain Richard Phillips to be taken hostage to protect his ship from Somali pirates — inspired many of us. We followed the drama and his daring rescue. For days, network news programs tracked the crew’s return and swarmed to exclusively interview them. Now, a similar quest will no doubt spoil the weekend of many reporters as they head to Vermont to try and get the first words from the captain himself as he arrives back home.

For many people, the shots of the Navy snipers were welcomed, seen as the first concrete action after months of frustration as the pirates hijacked ship after ship. It went down the way many Americans prefer: Fast and precise, with only the bad guys getting hurt. Unfortunately, those are not likely to be the last shots in this conflict at sea. In fact it may well trigger a new level of violence…but let’s stick with the good news.

Then there was Susan Boyle of Scotland. I dare anyone to watch that clip of her on YouTube from “Britain’s Got Talent” and not get teary. Thanks to the Internet, the woman who proclaimed she had never been kissed is now loved by many throughout the world. I think I’ve watched her song half a dozen times, and each time I cheer.

When she first walks on stage, we see so many of life’s knock-downs and stigmas reflected in her. Though we are raised to “never judge a book by its cover,” we did. She was a middle-aged, plain Jane who seemed a bit quirky. In our modern-day zeal to instantly peg a person, we had her nailed…until she sang. Her first notes shamed us and the rest lifted us to our feet.

I saw those two stories everywhere.

But only on Worldfocus did I see a week long series by Lynn Sherr from Liberia on the triumphs of women who are working to lift that once war-torn country.

From President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, Africa’s first elected female leader, to the market women who spawned a movement that helped to force former dictator Charles Taylor into exile, to the former girl soldiers and sex slaves of the civil war now are trying to forget their past and start new futures. Lynn introduced us to all of them, and in doing so, taught us much about a continent we thought we knew.

Most Americans think of Africa as a land of endless disease, war and famine. Our signature stories showed that this stereotype is wrong. Liberia inspires and teaches that the United States does not lead in all areas. In fact we ranked 56th of 130 countries [PDF] in the World Economic Forum’s 2008 survey of female political empowerment — trailing behind Angola, Mozambique, South Africa, Uganda, Burundi and Tanzania.

These are the stories we love to bring to viewers…they inform and uplift.

It’s good news, and we know there’s a whole world of it out there.

– Martin Savidge

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