Positive News hits the high street as ‘constructive journalism’ spreads

Lucy Purdy

Amid a fresh wave of interest in ‘constructive journalism’, from today Positive News magazine will be available in selected WHSmith shops across the UK

Positive News magazine hits the shelves at 150 WHSmith shops around the UK today, a milestone for the publication that began life as a free, reader-distributed newspaper in 1993. The step forward was made possible by the generous backing of a group of readers, who contributed toward the upfront costs of being stocked by the high street retailer.

WHSmith shops to now stock Positive News magazine range from Inverness in the north, to the Eurostar terminal in the south. The growing list of Positive News magazine stockists – which also include newsagents, independent shops, a central London branch of Waterstones, and other retailers – can be searched on an online map.


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The expansion of Positive News magazine’s distribution comes as interest in ‘constructive journalism’ – a term that describes rigorous, solutions-focused reporting – grows around the world. Bill Gates guest edited the first issue of the year of Time magazine, choosing to dedicate it to ‘The Optimists’.

“I’ve asked some of the people I respect most to write about what makes them optimistic,” he wrote in his editorial, titled The Good News. “Being an optimist doesn’t mean you ignore tragedy and injustice. It means you’re inspired to look for people making progress on those fronts, and to help spread that progress more widely. If you’re shocked by the idea of millions of children dying, you ask: Who is good at saving kids, and how can we help them do more?”

What was once a fringe idea in the industry is rapidly becoming an important part of the journalistic landscape

Former US president Barack Obama took to Twitter over the festive period to remind his nearly 100m followers that 2017 was not as bleak as the mainstream media might make out. He shared multiple stories of positive change to counter “all the bad news that seemed to dominate our collective consciousness” in the past year.

The Guardian editor-in-chief Katharine Viner wrote in an editorial in November: “If people long to create a better world, then we must use our platform to nurture imagination – hopeful ideas, fresh alternatives, belief that the way things are isn’t the way things need to be. We cannot merely criticise the status quo; we must also explore the new ideas that might displace it. We must build hope.”

The new issue of Positive News magazine

Meanwhile, Positive News magazine’s media training partner, the Constructive Journalism Project (CJP), has also been making waves. Jodie Jackson, a representative of the project, spoke at the first global constructive journalism conference, in Denmark in 2017, while this month, CJP co-founder Danielle Batist delivered a special training session in Turkey for displaced Syrian journalists.

In a 2017 report, the Reuters Institute for the Study of Journalism found that almost a third of people (29 per cent) say they often or sometimes avoid the news. “For many, this is because it can have a negative effect on mood,” the report read.

Being an optimist doesn’t mean you ignore tragedy and injustice. It means you’re inspired to look for people making progress on those fronts

Positive News editor-in-chief Sean Dagan Wood said: “We’re seeing a growing demand for trustworthy journalism that tackles important issues but doesn’t leave people feeling hopeless or powerless. With Positive News having gone against the journalistic grain for decades, we’re excited to see our solution-focused approach continue to gain traction as Positive News magazine hits newsstands nationwide. What was once a fringe idea in the industry is rapidly becoming an important part of the journalistic landscape in the eyes of both news producers and news consumers.”

Wood added: “Thank you to our incredible community, who believe deeply in our mission to change the news for good, for helping us reach this milestone.”


Subscribe to Positive News magazine at www.positive.news/join

Search our online map for stockists here (and share your photos of the magazine on the shelf in your local shop with us by email, or on Twitter or Instagram!)

With thanks to the following supporters of Positive News for helping get the magazine into high street shops nationwide: Alexandra Knight, Caroline Witts, Christine Eynon, David Peryer, David Preston, Libby Davy, Emil Maschner, Godric Bader, Jamie Wood, Janice Savage, Joe Mishan, John Gould, Lois Lodge, Lis Millar, Lyn Man, Marian Osborne, Michael Wright, Peter Merritt, Robert Tilley, Roger Osborne, Sue Thoma, Vanessa Nias, William Smith, and anonymous supporters.

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