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The daily news gets worse and worse. It is almost painful to hear it or read it, and really painful to see it on television. The problems of the world are huge, and there is virtually nothing that any of us can do about any of them. Many people simply switch off and try to ignore it all, and nobody can blame them for that.

I am a news addict and always have been. I started my working life on a local newspaper. We specialized in murders and traffic accidents, weddings and births, schools and sports. Nothing that happened more than five miles away was of the slightest editorial interest and, as a very junior reporter, my means of transport around our modest circulation area was a bicycle.

My ambition at that time was to get a job on a national newspaper and report some Big News for a change. This never happened, and perhaps it was just as well because I might have become cynical. "Big News" is a very strange product. It focuses on a tiny number of mega-famous people who seem to be and probably are running the world without asking any advice from the rest of us, and distant, catastrophic events that have almost nothing to do with our everyday lives.

Before newspapers and the other mass media came along the vast majority of people knew nothing and cared less about the affairs of the wider world. Rumors and legends came and went, but essentially all news was local. But print and literacy changed everything. The wider world was suddenly on everybody's doorstep which meant that people became much more sophisticated and better informed, but also had the effect of pulling them away from their own communities and concerns.

In the global sense everything is local news I suppose, in so far as we all share the same small planet although you would never guess it from reading newspapers from around the world. Every nation seems to live on its own small planet, surrounded by aliens. But we also need the kind of local news that happens right where we live, within bicycling distance. I am getting more and more addicted to the local news, which here in France arrives once a week in a neatly produced thirty page paper. It's full of life rather than death, and there is not a dull page in it.

This week we have reports on a new parking rack for bicycles, some interesting birds seen in the countryside, amateur theater productions and a poetry reading, what to do with artichokes (assuming that we have to do something), a local history column, and news that a young carpenter has come to town and is open for business. Every local event and group receives lavish coverage, with color photographs, and of course we have traffic accidents, weddings, births and deaths, lost dogs and cats, schools and sports. Reading this paper you would feel at home here even if you had never been to the place. It's all on the human scale. We don't see Vladimir Putin every day but we do see the Mayor every day, and can ask him awkward questions. Which is closer to "real life" – faraway intrigues in the parliaments and congresses of the world, or a village meeting to discuss drainage problems?

Most of us I think would prefer to lives in a world where the headlines are about community events and characters, rather than about celebrities, political infighting, and remote disasters. Unfortunately we have to live in both worlds, but at least we can choose which newspaper to read first.

Copyright: David Bouchier

David began as a print journalist in London and taught at a British university for almost 20 years. He joined WSHU as a weekly commentator in 1992, becoming host of Sunday Matinee in 1996.