“Dear WXXI, I am Liza, an almost ten year old…”
That's the beginning a letter sent to WXXI News by a young girl named Liza, who was asking for a whole day of "good news." Written in pencil on a sheet of lined paper, the simple letter is inspiring a series of uplifting reports from the WXXI news team.
News Director Julie Philipp met with Liza, whose mom listens to Morning Edition on WXXI every day in the car. Liza says she doesn't mind listening to the news, but she often finds it depressing.
"There’s always something bad going on," she wrote. " I wish they could play something happy. So the question is can you? Would you spend a whole day of just happy news or if bad news, happy solutions? If you did, I would round up all of my church friends to hear.”
Liza added, lots of people would benefit from hearing good news.
“It would lighten other people up to. I know you are busy, but it would really, really be a big favor."
And, she added a P.S. at the end.
"If you said yes, would I get an interview?”
That last request – well, News Director Julie Philipp gets dozens of those in her mailbox every day. But for some reason she felt as if putting this one aside, would surely mean her heart is two sizes too small. So she asked Liza to come in to WXXI's studios for an interview:
"Whose idea was it to write this letter?"
"Uhhh, mostly mine, but mama encouraged it."
"Have you ever done something like this before? Have you written any other letters that you hoped would make the world better?"
"No, not really."
"Why do you think reporters spend so much time on sad or bad news?"
"Uh…I guess it just gives them a good idea of what’s going on and a lot of bad things are going on. It’s sad, because like murder people die, and car crashes people get injured or they can die, and Hurricane Irene really did some damage."
"Do you think it’s hard to find good news?"
"Not really, if you really look."
"Can you think of some things that are happening in your neighborhood or community that would be good news?"
"Yeah, but also, this is not necessarily in my community, but Jane Goodall is working to rescue chimpanzees and replant trees, things like that."
" So there are a lot of people doing good things for animals and the environment, is that a good place to look? Any other ideas?"
"Things like if like on the radio, this is probably very unlikely, but if they said they found a cure for leukemia or cancer, that would really, really be great."
" So good news about people’s health, making people feel better or live longer would be a good place. Even if a cure isn’t found, I know there are a lot of people working towards cures. Any other thoughts on what would be good news.?"
"Things like which I know we’re already doing like sometimes when you walk into a shop they have little stands with pictures of people who have cancer or leukemia and you slip a quarter into the slot and it goes toward helping those people, that’s a good thing."
" So news about people helping other people is good news?"
"What if I told you everyone in the newsroom really, really, really liked your letter and they have decided to do a whole series of good news that’s going to run between Christmas and New Years on WXXI. How do you feel about that?"
"That’s good news."
And so WXXI News brings you a series we’re calling Liza’s Letter. Quoting from The Grinch Who Stole Christmas, "It came without ribbons, it came without tags, it came without packages, boxes or bags. " But it is our gift to you this holiday season. We hope it brings you joy.