Andy Murray’s Nice It takes effort to look deep into the worst of us and to share the ways that humans, out of the darkness, respond with energetic hope and creativity

As a writer, I am — naturally enough — very deliberate about what I put out into the world for other humans to think about.

I’d be INSANE if I wasn’t equally deliberate about I take in from the rest of the world.


But somehow, a writer’s natural deliberation isn’t always mirrored by the reader.

Readers — audiences of all kinds, myself included — often accept what we’re told without critique.

Particularly when it comes to content that is presented as impartial fact.

I’m talking about The News.

You Can Take Dessert Or You Can Pass

In these pages, I’m the writer. Every idea I write about, you can be sure I’ve thought very carefully about.

I don’t expect every idea to land with everyone, every week. That’s fine. As long as you get something out of most of my stories, then you’ll probably stick around.

If none of the stories ever help you make the world a better place, then I expect you to take the sensible decision to unsubscribe and stop reading.

That’s normal. I write stories that help you (and me) understand the world a little better, not stories that you can’t live without.

You can take dessert or you can pass.

With its apparently impartial presentation of fact, The News somehow, perniciously, sidesteps this judgemental faculty of ours.

We swallow The News as a vitamin.

It might not taste good, but, like vitamins, we believe that The News really does ‘contribute to the normal function of a healthy immune system’.

Unfortunately, it really doesn’t. And, secretly, we all know this.

If I told you that I got my news from The Daily Mail, Fox News and Russia Today, you’d probably draw the conclusion that I was a shitbag.

If, on the other hand, I got my news from the same place you get your news, however — why, what a discerningly well-informed world citizen I am!

We always believe that everyone else’s news sources are trash, but never ours.

The News is not a vitamin; it’s dessert and you can choose to pass.

No News Is Good News

Taking care over The News that I read, watch or hear is something that I’ve written about on these pages before:

Since 2017 — for more than five years now — I’ve not regularly read, listened to, or watched any newspaper, website or broadcast.

For much of this time, I have allowed only one feed into my life, the constructive journalism of the fortnightly Future Crunch email newsletter.

Sometimes, as during the Covid-19 lockdowns of 2020 and 2021, I’ve gone directly to more-or-less non-news analysts, such as research scientists and civil servants, or to crowdsourced aggregators like Wikipedia.

Everything else newsworthy comes to me through the filters of friends and the people around me — as likely to be the birth of their new niece as the sinking of a submersible off the coast of the Americas.

It’s not a perfect system, of course. I’m sure I do miss out on the odd thing that might change the way I think or act.

But it is one hell of a lot better than the old system I had, which was to try to stay on top of E V E R Y T H I N G.

Opening The Fire Hose Of Shit

From around 1995 until 2017, I used to listen to the radio news every day and (once I had an internet connection) trawl the pages of the BBC News website, scrapping for more information on whatever stories were top of the media agenda that week.

I felt like it was, in a vague, non-specific way, an important duty as a citizen to stay informed. And one stayed informed with a daily news report.

Unfortunately, this is how most of The News is reported:

  • Crap thing happening
  • Life getting worse
  • No end and no solution in sight

If you don’t believe me, let’s do an experiment. I’m going to go over to the BBC News website right now and see what kind of story they’ve chosen to tell about the world today.

(Feel free to skip this bit — it won’t make your life a better place.)

  • Murder arrests after man fatally stabbed
  • Sexual violence helpline pauses over lack of funds
  • Former PC faces trial over misconduct charges
  • Julian Sands’ brother on ‘overwhelming’ tributes
  • National police training in wake of mass shooting
  • Glastonbury Festival crew member dies in tent
  • Drink-driving arrest after car crashes into house
  • Andy Murray surprises girl who uses tennis prosthetic

Let’s be honest, opening the BBC News page — with its carefully cultivated projection of impartiality and fact — is like opening a fire hose of shit.

But here’s the kicker: just like me, the writers behind The News put a hell of a lot of thought and effort into the stories they’re telling.

The fire hose of shit is a choice; it is only one story, one vision of the world.

We don’t have to buy what they’re selling.

Let’s All Be Andy Murray

This shitty story nightly repeats, like the tolling of a death knell, the message that humans, collectively and globally, are failing.

(Except for Andy Murray: he’s nice.)

We’re failing ourselves, we’re failing each other and we’re failing the planet.

Andy Murray aside, there is no energy, no hope and no creativity.

Thanks to some quirk of human psychology, this apocalyptic vision is an extremely compelling story. So we share the worst of us.

It actually takes a great effort to share the best of us.

It takes even more of an effort to look deep into the worst of us and, resisting the temptation of negativity, to share the ways that humans, out of the darkness, respond with energetic hope and creativity.

That’s why it was wonderful to hear that Angus Hervey, one of the people behind Future Crunch, was recently invited to open the TED conference with his version of The News.

Hope Is A Doing Word

When we only tell the stories of doom, we fail to see the stories of possibility.

The hundreds of examples of progress in human rights, rising living standards, public health victories, clean energy breakthroughs, technological magic, ecological restoration and the countless extraordinary acts of kindness that take place on this planet every day.

I believe that if we want to change the story of the human race in the 21st century, we have to start changing the stories that we tell ourselves.

And we have to remember that hope isn’t a noun. It’s a verb. It’s not something that we have or something that we’re given. It’s something that we do.

Millions of people around the world chose to hope in the last 12 months and then rolled up their sleeves to get it done. Perhaps it’s time for the rest of us to do the same.

And Now The Weather

It’d be totally remiss of me not to include a proper theme tune for today’s news broadcast and, who else, but Bill Bailey.

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David Charles is co-writer of BBC radio sitcom Foiled. He also writes for The Bike Project, Thighs of Steel, and the Elevate Festival. He blogs at

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