For as long as I can remember, I’ve wondered why every newspaper, magazine, and news cast contains only negative content. Think about it. No matter what you read, see or hear under the guise of NEWS, 99.9% of it refers to murder, death, crime, war, disease, scandal, etc. I’ve heard the universal answer many times: “Good news doesn’t sell. People simply aren’t interested in good news.” However, I’ve always doubted that observation and held out a little hope that others enjoyed good news as much as I did.
When I was a youngster, about 100 years ago, you could buy a colorful comic book for a mere 10¢. Today they cost anywhere from three to four dollars each. Almost every comic book contained want ads offering anything from ant farms and sea monkeys to job opportunities in the form of Christmas card sales and paper routes.
One of those ads resulted in my first “real job” other than mowing lawns at the ripe old age of 8. I considered myself a newspaper man of sorts by signing up to deliver a weekly newspaper door to door. I had to recruit my own customers from scratch using a sales pitch I developed myself. Little did I know at the time that I was one of approximately 30,000 boys collecting dimes from more than 700,000 American small town homes from coast to coast. I made 5¢ on every copy I sold, won a variety of “swell” prizes and built my route to include well over a hundred customers and several commercial partners who resold my papers in their establishment. I had no idea that what I thought was a little weekly newspaper was actually a national institution. The name of the paper was Grit and it was known as “America’s Greatest Family Newspaper.”
I share this fond learning experience as a result of a pleasant shock I received during a recent visit to my local Barnes and Noble. While browsing the magazine rack, I was astounded to discover a colorful publication with the bold title of Grit adorning its cover. My initial impulse was coincidence as cherished memories flooded my mind. However, upon close and immediate scrutiny, I discovered that this magazine was indeed the descendant of the weekly classic I delivered to so many loyal readers. I immediately purchased a copy, hurried home and thoroughly perused the content before researching Google for a refreshing update of this new found treasure.
I discovered that Grit was a pioneer in the introduction of offset printing and was one of the first newspapers in the U.S. to run color photographs. At its peak in 1969, Grit had a total circulation of 1.5 million weekly copies! In September of 2006, it converted to an all-glossy, perfect-bound magazine format and a bi-monthly schedule. It is now displayed and sold at general newsstand outlets, bookstores and specialty farm feed and supply stores.
Founded in 1882, Grit is one of the longest running publications in the country and is still enjoying popularity 126 years later. What’s really ironic about that is the fact that Grit publishes only “good news,” substantiating my initial observation that there are obviously many of us who do, in fact, enjoy a positive slant on recent events.
My research also reminded me why Grit achieved classic status on a national level. I came across the age-old philosophy that might very well explain the “magic” behind this treasured piece of American tapestry. Simplistic? No doubt. Successful? No question.
- Always keep Grit from being pessimistic.
- Avoid printing those things which distort the minds of readers or make them feel at odds with the world.
- Avoid showing the wrong side of things, or making people feel discontented.
- Do nothing that will encourage fear, worry, or temptation.
- Whenever possible, suggest peace and good will toward men.
- Give readers courage and strength for their daily tasks.
- Put happy thoughts, cheer and contentment into their hearts.
Sounds almost corny by today’s standards, doesn’t it? On the other hand, corn is a money crop today. Maybe other publications should follow suit. I’m certain that philosophy contributes greatly to the longevity of this historic publication.