If you've been reading the news this week, chances are you'll have been reading about boobs. Their ability to see the sales of a French rag sky-rocket, or their owner's undoubted right to bare them in private without threat of insidious voyeurs or, away from the front page, the anger that their daily appearance in a certain red-top has inspired in a young activist. Or you may read the Sun, in which case you literally just saw a stranger's boobs, as you do every weekday.
Of course negative stories about women - their bodies and behaviour in particular - are the choice fodder of some sections of the British press. The totally normalised nitpicking scrutiny of women such as the Duchess of Cambridge means that, though depressing, it's not surprising to see the frenzy over a story about her boobs.
It is interesting to note, though, the vast difference between the varied reaction Kate has received, as compared to Prince Harry, who bared all (knowingly and with a huge grin) for cameras last month. Comments admonishing Kate for sunbathing topless at all, or insisting she should be aware of the danger of the long lens are spiteful, even sinister, against the universal joviality with which Harry's antics were met.
There are some thoughtfully written pieces on this affair, but an underreported travesty worth paying attention to is what we all lose out on because of an obsession with boobs and other non-news. There must be information sidelined, only to be replaced by critiques of the female body or soft porn. What of the worthy news we are missing? One case in point: last week a new species of monkey was discovered. News of a primate's existence is surely more important than boobs? Yet the front page of every national paper bar the Guardian led with a picture of the Duchess of Cambridge on Friday morning, as both stories broke.
So if you agree that boobs are not news, and talking about boobs isn't news; what is? Or, more accurately, what is valuable news?
This is a timely point at which to ask such a question. The Leveson Inquiry has recently challenged the methods of the media, including a largely overlooked but brilliant contribution from campaigners against the objectification of women in the press. We've also had the feel-good factor of the Olympics to challenge the accepted adage that good news is not news.
This evening (19 September 2012) a sold-out event at the British Museum asks why positive news is almost wholly absent from the mainstream agenda. Founder of WhataGoodWeek.com, 24-year-old Jodie Jackson, who is organising the event tells me that she was fed up with the lack of valuable positive news sources, so created her own. As it turns out, there is a whole community of people who, like Jodie, are disseminating or actively seeking good news. And they don't mean pictures of cute baby animals, but meaningful positive news stories.
Having worked with charities for years, I know how difficult it can be to get such a story published, or even listened to. You get much more attention by finding fault than by finding solutions.
So while I have this platform, a lovely example of something positive you can still get involved in is the forthcoming Inspiration Awards for Women on 3 October 2012. The plan is to celebrate the achievements of ordinary women who've done extraordinary things. The really good news is there will be no mention of their boobs, apart from to say that all proceeds go to Breakthrough Breast Cancer.
Whether you would rather hear stories like this one, or you genuinely prefer the dominance of negative news, the real point is choice. At the moment there is precious little, perhaps because we don't realise we have any.
Don't buy or read what you don't agree with and be vocal about your opinions, because we DO get to decide our media's agenda. Just not on our own.
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