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:
Photo title: Martyn Lewis