It’s not enough to just present the problem

 

/ Culture

06 Dec 2012

 
Jodie_crop

Fed up with the negativity of the media, Jodie Jackson launched her own news website before bringing together editors, journalists and the public to debate the potential of good news. Here she shares her story and calls for a constructive approach to news reporting

 
Jodie Jackson speaking at the Good News for the Media event in September 2012     Photo © What a Good Week

I’m not a journalist; I work in perfumery and am training to be an accountant. But about a year ago, I became frustrated with the lack of positive news. Constantly being confronted with problems – not just global ones, but all the individual tragedies that seemed to feed into my outlook of the world – it began to upset me.

According to scientist Matt Ridley, author of The Rational Optimist, on the whole we are wealthier, healthier, happier, kinder, cleaner, more peaceful, more equal and longer-lived than any previous generation. But this was becoming increasingly difficult for me to believe by reading the newspaper.

So I did something about it; I started a website called What a Good Week. During each week I collected together what I considered to be good news stories from various media sources, and linked to them on my website every Sunday.

I had almost given up reading newspapers before I decided to actively seek out good news. While I was running my website, I would always ask people if they read the newspapers and if they replied no, I’d ask why. In almost every case, their answer was because they found it too depressing. Not once did I hear that it was because they just weren’t interested.

I ran What a Good Week for a year in my spare time, and I was continuously surprised at the amazing stories I would find. But one of the most exciting things, I soon discovered, was that I wasn’t alone. I found networks of like-minded people, such as those at Positive News, and by sharing ideas it took me on a wonderful journey, which led to me establishing an event at the British Museum in September 2012, titled Good News for the Media.

With a panel of speakers featuring former BBC news presenter Martyn Lewis, Positive News editor Seán Dagan Wood, and founder of the Transformational Media Summit, Jeremy Wickremer, the event brought together more than 100 editors, journalists and members of the public to discuss the potential benefits that good news can offer to society and to the media industry itself.

“I’d ask people why they didn’t read newspapers and in almost every case, their answer was because it’s too depressing”

We discovered how an increasing number of media organisations and journalists are now devoted to reporting constructively. This approach is based on the principle that it is not enough to simply present the problem facing society; people want to know how to channel this information into something constructive.

What we called for at Good News for the Media was for this type of constructive news to have an increased presence in the mainstream press, to become a stable component in classic news reporting rather than a niche part of journalism.

Psychologically, we have a survival instinct that reacts to bad news. People want to know about the dangers of the world so they can avoid them, and newspapers know how to cash in on this. And although society has benefited greatly from the development of critical investigative journalism, the counter productivity is that it misses all the good in the world.

It’s universally acknowledged that the core responsibility of a journalist is to seek truth and report it. But having discovered how much good news is out there, it seems that to me that the ‘truth’ currently being reported in the mainstream media doesn’t qualify as the complete truth, and doesn’t fully reflect the world as it is.

If we are seeking truth, we should include more examples of human resilience, recovery, positive emotions, accomplishments and solutions to the problems we face.

I don’t want to undermine the great work that many journalists do, often in difficult circumstances and sometimes at risk to their own lives. But I believe that it is time for the inclusion of more positive news – an addition that would contribute to a complete picture of the world, not mask its truth.

 
 

If you enjoyed this article, please consider making a donation

Donating helps us keep reporting on positive news

 
 

2 comments:

  1. sally Crum says:

    I love this article! Short and sensible and true!

    • jheron says:

      Thank you for the article. I have a hard time reading the news for the exact reason you stated others stopped reading newspapers. I do find it depressing too. It just seems like there is this constant bombardment of negative stories. There are usually some positive stories, but I find these are more on an individual level and not on a global level. Although the stories of individuals triumphing are very welcome, I think there needs to be an even greater emphasis on showing the truth that we are doing some things right on a global level to balance out our perspectives.

There are no external links to this article yet

Share your thoughts

*

You can track all responses to this article by subscribing to the RSS feed.