Bad news is good news. This standard truism of journalism is not going to change, no matter how indignant we may feel at what seems like unfair, biased, inaccurate and unbalanced reporting on our affairs. It is a fact of life that the unpleasant and the dramatic are going to grab the headlines. So, we have unprecedented prosperity, all indications for the future are positively glowing, we enjoy internal stability and communal peace, government works and private enterprise booms. So what? Who cares? Certainly not some newspaper editor in Calgary or a television executive in Hamburg. They want news. And that means bad news. This may seem unfair to those who look forward with optimistic anticipation to the new Hong Kong. Well, get used to it. We can dispatch Anson Chan Fang On-sang to New York and the Governor to Washington, we can send battalions of Chamber of Commerce delegations to Germany and Japan, we can march off Trade Development Council road-shows to Sydney and Singapore and we can shriek to the heavens of our success story; but one querulous statement about human rights by Martin Lee Chu-ming swamps all the positive news. The doom and gloom get featured, the boom is ignored. This is inevitable. But at least public relations consultant Ted Thomas is trying to do something about it. Mr Thomas hopes his Advance Hong Kong movement will redress the news balance. Well, good luck, but do not expect to read front-page headlines in world newspapers saying 'Everything coming up roses in Hong Kong.' Mr Thomas has carried out about as many campaigns as the Emperor Napoleon. As a public servant, he headed the police public relations office when the Fight Crime campaign was launched in the 1970s. During the same era, he leapt into the Clean Hong Kong campaign. You can accuse Mr Thomas of many things, but nobody can deny his enthusiasm for the many causes he has adopted. Save water? He had a nude couple in a bath with the message: 'Shower with a friend.' It was a first for government announcements. Other causes he follows are prompted by personal indignation. He once deluged newspaper offices with outraged letters and called talk-back shows in indignation in a futile drive to have summer time introduced in Hong Kong. Another personal drive which had him calling protest meetings in the 1980s was also doomed, despite considerable public sympathy; he wanted government to protect small businesses by stopping huge rent rises. It was no coincidence that his outrage was sparked by his landlord presenting him with a massive demand, but this campaign touched a genuine vein of public concern. Small entrepreneurs and restaurants were being sent to the wall for financial execution by greed, Mr Thomas thundered. That crusade got nowhere, but it gave rise to intense debate. It touched the same sort of people who are marching behind the Thomas banner in the Advance Hong Kong drive, the small businessmen, the self-employed, the strugglers in the frontline of private enterprise. There is a belief, inarticulate and angry, that they are being overlooked. They see Hong Kong marching towards the future with their worries not being addressed. These feelings are exacerbated by constant queries from uninformed and ignorant friends abroad who accept that society is going to expire with a whimper on July 1. They blame the international media for not writing glowing stories about Hong Kong, overlooking that being propaganda organs for our future is hardly the function of foreign publications and broadcasters. It is significant that none of the great hongs have come to the party in support of the indignant drive. Proposals by Mr Thomas and his backers include paying the expenses of reporters to go back to their hometowns or countries they have worked and trying to sell positive stories to the media. Just how this would work is beyond me. What Advance Hong Kong seeks to do is laudable - get balanced reportage on our affairs in the world's press - but the strategies and tactics must be better considered. The emotions expressed last week at a public meeting held to launch Advance Hong Kong were inchoate and sometimes inarticulate. The feeling of frustration and helplessness, however, could not be doubted. Why can't foreign newspapers say good things about Hong Kong, demand the Advance supporters? Why should they? When was the last time you read anything positive about, say, Denmark? That kingdom is small, prosperous, liberal, free and, therefore, totally unnewsworthy. Our case is different, of course. We may have faith in our future, but much of the rest of the world is blinded by China's perceived bad record on human rights. The notorious 'death of Hong Kong' article in a leading United States magazine set the tone for much coverage of the transition; many have followed in that path despite the efforts of government information agencies and private enterprise pro-Hong Kong boosters to set the record straight. Like Julius Caesar, the bad news about us is remembered but the good is buried, hopefully not along with the bones of our society. If Mr Thomas and his Advance Hong Kong followers can help redress that balance, good luck to them. But do not pin your hopes on it.