Positive News can be looked at by many different perspectives. However Positive News VS. Negative News as an approach comes at the issue from oppositive ends of the spectrum.
From the perspective of the News Editor or Journalist, the issue becomes what is “News Worthy”. How does it affect the population especially in its adversity? So from a true journalism perspective in includes investigative journalism, the kind that will unearth a Political Scam like the famous Watergate Scandal with Richard Nixon, or the Bill Clinton – Monica Lewinski news story which unearthed conduct that is unbecoming of the Presidential Office. In the more recent issues for the City of Toronto and the issues with it’s Mayor Rob Ford, it becomes a little more subjective as to when the journalism ends and the infotainment aspect begins as the escapade hit late night talk shows. On the up-side, this question has left more than a few journalists debating these issues, and so the Center for Constructive Journalism is being created in Denmark.
From the Publisher’s or Station Manager’s perspective, they also need to take into consideration the ownership/share holder perspective, and the bottom line revenue which of course brings in the money to pay everyone’s salary and make something called a profit. This of course, is largely determined by the popularity of the medium.
Subscriptions and advertising rules the day in most media and the crux of the matter is Negative News sells. Violence, murder, train wrecks and plane crashes, the more graphic the more captivated the audience becomes.
Of course part of the issues is what is real from the perspective of proportional representation. Trouble spots in Urban Cities, like the South Side of Chicago, and Toronto’s Jane & Finch or Scarborough areas get their fair share of negative reporting but perhaps they also get their unfair share. While these area have their problems and definite gang issues etc. the reality is likely for every one negative act there are countless positive acts like community centre volunteers, big brothers and big sisters or a kindly act of a neighbor bringing food to a senior. Of course most of these are not “news worthy” unless there is some “out of the ordinary” angle or something extra-ordinary to make the item a story with human appeal, not just an every day act. These of course on the large scale can wind up being on National Television on a program like CNN Heroes, which is a high point in positive journalism and is pointing the way to a new awareness that yes, great positive stories really do change the world as much as negative ones do.
Canadian vocal group the Barenaked Ladies do a Parody of Negative News and what are often called disaster movies. In their analogy, negative news is like Chicken Little yelling “the Sky If Falling.” 99% of the time ODDS ARE, it’s not going to fall at all!
Many psychologists will tell you that humans are so focused on negativity and negative news simply because our inner brain which governs safety, fight or flight issues is conditioned to, however the problem is, that unlike the cave man, the modern day person likely does not need that protection, however may end up buying a new alarm system simply because he hears the commercials over and over again and relates it to one passing news story.
We asked Good News Toronto Editor and founder Eva Karpati what her motivation was in creating this on-line publication. “Well it’s really simple, there’s really no balance in the news being given to us. Bad news sells but it also takes up 55 minutes in an hours worth of TV News. That does not give society a balanced reality of what is happening. We are trying to be that balance, by telling the untold story of so many inspiring people that change our world each and every day, but nobody has ever heard about them much less some of the great things they have done. It leaves us believing that the world is a worse place then it actually is.”
If Positive News can bring us up and negative news can bring us down, why are we so infatuated with negative news? One might take a principal shared in modern psychology that you get what you focus on, or in defensive driving; you go where you’re eyes are looking and there’s a good reality that this is often true of negative news. If one youth commits a stabbing at a high school, but 100 youth do volunteer work, who gets all the press, publicity and fame? It may not seem like the best attention, however, for too many youth who get little or no attention it’s a great opportunity to say look at me.
On the other hand new publication like the Good News Toronto, or the Positive News in the UK and indeed our own PosiNews are making the case in the opposite direction. We need to make everyday heroes that centre of our attention, acts of kindness and pay if forward as the new water cooler conversation as it more than anything else will inspire more acts of random kindness and make us a more humane world displacing fear and negativity into something called a positive reality in what arguably is often called a negative world. But you need both sides of the story, balance and perspective to understand Positivity is alive and well. Should we all be informed? Absolutely because that’s how we can participate in change, so by all means get up to date on news and do watch investigative journalistic programs, but don’t over-dose on negative news simply because there’s an all news channel or a copy of the local news paper to spend the next 20 minutes reading about a negative news story you just heard on the radio and watched in the previous nights tv news. Balance is everything, so make sure, you treat positive news like you would positive food, books, movies and yes even Positive Music.
The Positive Imperative’s contribution to supporting the “Good News” perspective is called the PosiNews and you will find it here.