Former BBC news presenter issues renewed call for more realistic balance of good and bad news

Martyn Lewis CBE has issued a renewed call for more good news in the media, after seeing the national mood lifted during the Olympics.

The former BBC news presenter said constantly covering bad news was lazy journalism and ignored good things happening around us on a regular basis. A long time advocate of more balanced news coverage, Lewis made the comments to Positive News ahead of an event he will take part in on 19 September 2012 called Good News for the Media.

Speaking during the Games, he said: “We’ve seen this incredible wave of good public mood during the Olympics. People’s attitude to life has been changing with all the good news around.

“I have been misunderstood in the past, with people believing I just want more good news at the expense of covering real news. This is not the case, I want a more balanced news agenda, which treats good newsworthy stories in the same way as negative stories,” he explained.

At the event, which takes place at the British Museum in London, Lewis will join the editor of Positive News, Seán Dagan Wood, and other speakers in a debate encouraging the media to be more open to reporting good news and the potential solutions to the problems the world faces.

Lewis commented: “I’d like to see the media engage in solutions-driven journalism. If a news editor or reporter can’t be persuaded to write about more positive things, then can the person writing a negative item spend a small amount of time looking into what’s being done to tackle the issues being talked about and include a few lines about solutions to the problem?”

“I see so many good stories that don’t get covered, stories that could lift and inspire”

Lewis, who is chair of the National Council for Voluntary Organisations, said he sees “incredibly interesting” stories coming from the voluntary sector all the time, which are rarely covered.

“There is still a sense that something is only really news if it’s going wrong – that bad news sells. But I see so many good stories that don’t get covered, stories that could lift and inspire,” he added.

“Journalists have told me it’s difficult to fight against the culture of bad news; that you don’t get on in your career unless you focus on negative news. I think it can be lazy journalism – bad news stories often fall into your lap. It takes more effort to find the good news stories,” Lewis said.

He first became interested in the positive news agenda in the late 70s, after 15 years in the industry. But Lewis found it difficult for his voice to be heard, until he was invited to deliver two speeches on the subject in the US in 1993.

His views were then picked up on by The Independent, but at the time many working in the media did not take his stance seriously.

The broadcaster now carries out regular talks at journalism schools and various other institutes, on changing news values.

Tickets for the Good News for the Media event are free and are available from:
www.goodnewsforthemedia.com

Photo title: Martyn Lewis

  • Jaimine

    First of all, ‘paid news’ or the ‘commercialized Journalists’ must be covered on our morning pages so that the basic fundamentals to cover so-called good news have that podium. However, covering of bad news can’t be ignored as it brings us to the attention but still many have adjusted to the predicament and have become too lazy to fight against the problem. Although, a great significant reformation is required in Journalism but it seems the voice within/from the Media sector has not risen up.

  • Oana

    It’s rather surprising the amount of books and articles published on how to live healthy, about becoming happy, about success and happiness, or showing the determination through adversity, about using all types of positive tools for life enhancement etc and the fact that journalists don’t pick up on them! they represent people’s need for hope and happiness and compassion; one can actually have ‘power’ only by using these instead of using greed, economic depression and war to increase journals’ print and negative power to control masses – that’s when revolutions occur because people hope for better; puzzling….. without hope humans would not have evolved the way we see it, so imagine how much better life can become by changing the way we communicate; thanks for the work you do – lots of us enjoy reading the news here!

  • Elizabeth Ann Carpenter

    About time too, long overdue as I’m sure there are many good things happening in the world which sadly are just not considered “newsworthy” by the negatively orientated press…which means just about ALL the press (as Positive News analysis demonstrates!).

  • Great stuff. But there is “biased” news journalism too. The recent 2 years of demonising the disabled and ill has been somewhat disgusting. Leading to further ill health and, in certain instances, suicide. This, of course, can be spun to be “positive” (i.e. lowering government borrowing etc) however it clearly isn’t when you know the whole story. It’s the whole story that needs portraying I guess…

    Responsible journalism has always taken a second seat to sensationalism, feeding those who like to watch others burn to feed or perversely heal their own inadequacies…

  • I came across this news story recently which typifies what you are saying
    http://www.cbsnews.com/8301-33816_162-57518288/bus-driver-gives-his-shoes-to-homeless-man/

    I was so inspired I wrote a poem about it (some context for the poem. JB is a small black bear who writes about humans, the good and the bad. He opens this poem with a statement akin to your comments about how much reporting is negative)

    THE NEWS IN RHYME: A SIMPLE ACT OF KINDNESS

    The news reported every day,
    Can bring this young bear down,
    It seems that all that happens is,
    Designed to make you frown,
    So with delight I do report,
    The story of a man,
    Who drives a bus in Winnipeg,
    And helps out when he can.

    When driving people round the town,
    A thing he does each day,
    The driver, name of Kristian,
    Noticed along the way,
    A homeless man without some shoes,
    He though ‘That can’t be right,
    I’ll stop and offer him my shoes,
    Help him out of his plight.’

    The people on the bus that day,
    Were witness to the scene,
    And one of them was heard to say,
    ‘The kindest thing I’ve seen.’
    And when the mayor of Winnipeg,
    Made mention of this star,
    He said ‘I think that Kristian,
    Has raised our standards bar.’

    I’d like to say a personal thanks,
    To Kristian today,
    Amidst the news that brings you down,
    That’s often on display,
    Your generous act is not confined,
    It helps us all feel part,
    Of things most worthy of our care,
    Thanks Buddy! From the heart.

    Heh! Heh!
    JB

  • Mike Worsman

    There is a news organisation that exists which does exactly this, it is Australian based and called Our World Today (www.ourworldtoday.com.au) and the best thing is they have a UK connection with Action for Happiness

  • laura

    I dont watch the news any more. To sad, full on and grafic. The show to much. I do listen to triple j wich gives a great over all up date. There is a lot of happy news out there.

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