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THE OBSERVER

Good news

This Sunday we have decided to revolt. ARA’s newsroom has put together a newspaper brimming with good news and, surprisingly, the task has proven easier than we had anticipated

We journalists often get caught up in a negative view of the world. For facts to become newsworthy, they must be novel, surprising, shocking, exceptional or serious, all of which are necessary conditions to engage our readers —and us— but are more readily associated with bad news. The magnetism of an upper-case headline in bold, of the highest figure, of the overstated decibel and a speeded up reality mean that newspapers are often a selection of the human soul’s ugliest facets, with all their sadness, violence, impotence and evil.

This Sunday we have decided to revolt. ARA’s newsroom has put together a newspaper brimming with good news and, surprisingly, the task has proven easier than we had anticipated. When we first toyed with the idea, we wondered how we could possibly come up with enough good stories for the year when thousands of fleeing refugees have died in the Mediterranean Sea, when Syria has brought shame to the civilised world and Donald Trump has been elected president; the year of Brexit and the discredit of traditional politics; the year when some of our favourite artists have passed away. Well, we have delivered.

Our paper’s first piece this Sunday is a dossier with 50 positive stories from all spheres. From the defeat of Austria’s far right to Messi’s virtuoso goals, including the drop in unemployment figures and the examples of courage and solidarity with refugees. We have written about scientific breakthroughs in biomedicine and in our understanding of the universe; the struggle for a better school system that helps us to focus on what really matters —teaching and learning— and economic growth; we write about Catalan exports, and men and women who denounce sexist behaviour that is overlooked in many areas. In keeping with the spirit of our split personality and to bridge the gap between our journalistic Jekyll and Hyde, we have invited Manel Fontdevila to contribute a humorous counterpoint. Good news, indeed, but with a little voice reminding us that our endeavour is willingly naive, to some extent. I would like to encourage you to read our dossier and we, in the newspaper, will aim to hang on to this positive spirit (at least for a few days).

Beloved monsters

The Christmas spirit that fills today’s paper with good news is a hug for our readers. We will take this opportunity to hug our families and friends, too. It is Christmas day and, for a while, we will be entitled to believe that things may turn out all right after all, that we are fortunate to love and be loved, that it makes sense to fight for our hopes and our dreams, to fight for our future.

Cava adverts portray seemingly marvellous families. They are few and far apart. Most families are somewhat more dysfunctional and uglier than in ads, and they come in all shapes and sizes. What is a perfect family? To me the perfect family is the one that we have all built over the years with the ships and flotsam from the kind of shipwreck that we call life. Today we will meet our own personal collection of beloved marvels and monsters.

We will meet the mothers who used to act as a magnet and still do. The ones who cooked when it was necessary and those who cook nowadays; the ones who have been worrying for weeks about doing the shopping, those who make sure that all the forks are identical and the cloth napkins are nicely pressed. The men and women who have taken it upon themselves to ensure that the day turns out well, despite the difficulties. The mothers who have been to the hair salon, who have bought or made presents, and who will still be in the kitchen when the first guests trickle in.

We will see parents fetching chairs and losing count twenty-five times, the same ones who will nip out for some last minute shopping. The parents who will wash their car today. We will think about our absent parents. Some will also meet the men who happily wear an apron and are still admired by the women in the rest of the family, who can’t help but to nudge each other about it.

We will see children running around with presents they do not need, and we won’t feel like looking at the children who got none. We will meet that distant cousin who arrives looking upset and does not fancy a chat because when you work in the cancer ward of a children’s public hospital you don’t often feel like talking.

We will meet our grandma, who is 84 and learning English, and also the the grandma who is afraid because she has Alzheimer’s and does not know where she is or what’s going on, but still gives you a sweet hug.

We will meet our brothers, the competitive ones as well as those who complement each other. Our sisters, who understand it all with just one glance.

We will meet the new couples. The friends who have loved each other for twenty-five years and the ones who have hated one another for twenty-five years.

Today is also a day of absences, of black holes in our memory. But, above all, it will be a day for children. The ones who give us a jolt of faith in the world and fill our homes with their laughter and loud voices.



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