Heard the good news?
With plans afoot to launch a weekly paper covering only positive stories, Tim Walker looks at the other efforts to fill pages with only sweetness and light
Tim Walker is The Independent’s Los Angeles correspondent, covering entertainment and other concerns from the West Coast of the US. He was previously a features writer and the editor of the paper’s diary column. His first novel, Completion, is being published in January 2014.
Monday 24 September 2012
The summer may have been packed with cheerful Olympic news, but the lustre didn't last very long. Already, the newspapers are filled with NHS failings, financial disaster, murder and political mayhem. However, a new title plans to keep the good news on the front page. The Positive, a planned print and online newspaper, is presently recruiting staff. It is, say its founders, "dedicated to unearthing and reporting on visionary, constructive, positive aspects of London/UK life… [an] alternative to the gloomy sensationalistic weekly tabloids that have become a staple".
This wouldn't be the first time the media has tried to respond to calls for more good news. As long ago as 1993, BBC newsreader Martyn Lewis asked "for positive stories to be given a fair hearing when the day's news agenda is discussed". In a speech subsequently published by The Independent, Lewis suggested "a shift of emphasis" towards positive stories such as successful charity projects, improved working conditions, economic recovery. Lewis, right, was attacked by fellow journalists, his arguments dismissed by his BBC bosses.
Now no longer a newsreader, Lewis nonetheless continues to argue the case and last week spoke at an event at the British Museum called "Good News for the Media", at which the demand for positive news and its importance were both discussed. He was joined at the podium by Sean Dagan Wood, the editor of Positive News, (above) which describes itself as "The world's original and leading positive newspaper." Founded in 1993, the same year that Lewis put his head above the parapet, Positive News publishes a print edition four times per year and claims a circulation of 60,000. The leading headlines on its website last week included "Somalia bans female genital mutilation", "Wales announces new plan to protect bees" and "Bhutan to become self-sufficient in vegetables".
In an interview with Positive News, Lewis said "There is still a sense that bad news sells. But I see so many good stories that don't get covered; stories that could lift and inspire."
Nightly news programmes still tend to confine so-called good news to the non-serious "And finally…" slot, or The One Show.
But at least national newspapers sometimes contain good news. The pages of last Friday's Independent, for instance, contained stories including "Record results for primary school pupils", "'Popcorn lung' man wins £4.4m for illness caused by flavouring" and "Zombies play their part to celebrate local boy who made good".
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