Reflecting on his internship at Positive News, Tom Lawson considers the benefit of the internet at a time of change in the media
For the last few weeks of my internship at Positive News I was put in charge of our social networking accounts. As soon as a story was up on the website I was able to promote it instantly to thousands of people at the click of a button. It also meant being able to gain readers reactions immediately and engage in conversation on the issues we cover.
Having the power of this form of communication at my fingertips cast my mind back to when Seán, our editor, was putting together the obituary of Positive News’ founder, Shauna Crockett-Burrows, who sadly passed away in the spring, towards the beginning of my placement.
While researching her legacy, Seán came across some of her old pre-Positive News publications, and one editorial spoke of the exciting prospect that computer files could be saved on disks and then be sent around the world by post. There was also mention of the early stages of the existence of the internet, which at the time was merely a pipe dream.
Though there were often times on my placement when I got frustrated at trying to track down and get permission for photos to go with our stories in time to meet tight publication deadlines, I can’t imagine what it must have been like to have to do it all by post.
Despite the remote location of our offices in rural Shropshire, like any other publication we can now broadcast news instantaneously. Within seconds news stories can be accessed on websites as well as social networks. This would have been unthinkable at the conception of Positive News, 19 years ago, yet such seismic shifts are now already being taken as the norm.
Last year the Arab spring saw a massive increase in press freedom as a result of this new media, and I’m hopeful that a shift to a more positive media is equally possible.
Readers no longer have to rely solely on the mainstream media to get their news and with high profile events such as Good News for the Media and the Transformational Media Summit earlier this year, calls for more positive news from figures including politicians such as the president of the Philippines and journalist Martyn Lewis and seeing the number of followers on our social network sites increase on a daily basis, a shift towards a more positive balance in the media feels inevitable.
So next time I’m waiting for my browser to load for a few seconds or a photo isn’t downloading instantaneously, instead of contemplating destroying my computer I will think of Shauna and the incredible things she achieved in a time where positive change was a lot harder to spread.