I wrote last night about how our news focuses on the negative. Although these stories must be reported to keep us informed, the way they are reported sometimes (a lot of the time, in my opinion) serves to divide an already divided country. I wish it would stop.
There are other stories that can reflect humanity’s ability to work together and get past differences of race, religion, ethnicity, and opinion. These, while reported in brief, should be reported more – or at least as often as the biased, negative stories.
One such story is about the James Webb Space Telescope. Shortly after moving to our cabin, I sent for a series of children’s magazines I was considering submitting pitches to for upcoming topics. I had trouble getting them from the public library, so I bought a set. They come defined by age level, and genre (science, non-fiction, fiction, historical, etc.).
While looking at one of the issues, met for 9-14 year-olds, there was a blurb about the newly launched James Webb Space Telescope. The piece was short – only about a paragraph and focused on the photographs that would be sent back and how they would help scientists understand the universe more. We saw the article about six weeks ago, in the most recent issue of this children’s magazine! Now, we are not news hounds, but we do watch the news. And, yes, we had heard about photographs being sent back from a “new” space telescope. But, we knew nothing about the scale of this project, who was involved, or what it cost. Essentially, we learned about it when we saw the “blurb” in the children’s magazine.
That is until we came across an episode of NOVA a day or two later on July 13th. This episode focused on the James Webb Space Telescope, how it was built, and who was involved. Let’s say it is very worthwhile to watch. People from numerous countries, 14 to be exact, and thousands of scientists, engineers, and technical experts worked to bring this project to fruition. And it is a project that had to be exact. The placement of the telescope is not like the Hubble, its predecessor, where repairs if (when) needed could be made. The James Webb Telescope is on the far side of the moon and cannot be reached to be repaired. Everything, including a huge, origami-like sun shield to keep the equipment from overheating, had to deploy in space perfectly! There were hundreds of checklist items that had to work perfectly for the telescope to work, not just a few, but hundreds. The relief on the part of the scientists in the special was palpable. It took me back to being a child and watching the space landings in the 1960s.
My point is that this was a project that took different experts from different countries to pull off. There was diversity. It was needed. The project was successful so why wasn’t it touted in the general media more? I don’t know. It should have been and still, should be.
We cannot solely focus on the divisiveness of human deeds. We need to hear about the success stories of people pulling together, problem-solving, and working for the good of all. The James Webb Space Telescope is such a story. The news needs to do a better job.
I wrote a different version of this story for my Medium account. You can view it here. I believe this is a better version of the story. Read both and let me know what you think in the comments! Thanks!