Renowned news presenter Martyn Lewis CBE has become official patron of Positive News, the world’s first positive newspaper
Lewis first spoke out against a pervasive negativity bias in the press 20 years ago, around the same time that Positive News was founded. Facing a hostile response from industry colleagues, he encouraged the media to rethink its idea of what constitutes ‘news’ and urged that positive developments and solutions be given a fair hearing alongside the reporting of problems.
Now, two decades on, Lewis has joined forces with Positive News and says he is excited to be working together towards a shared goal of a balanced news agenda.
“I’ve never suggested that all news should be good news, because that is not the way the world turns around,” he explains. “But alongside the analysis of things going wrong in society, the problems and the failure, there should be a parallel analysis of the things going right. Journalists are supposed to be holding a mirror up to the world. It is part of our responsibility to do that.
“And a tremendous number of things in our world are working. People are coming together in an infinite number of ways to work on an incredible variety of projects, which are having real and positive results. Their stories often simply do not get told.”
Lewis joined the BBC in 1986, quickly becoming one of its best-known broadcast journalists. In 1993 he wrote an article for the Independent, criticising the industry and calling for a change in news values, and rallying against a story selection system that revolved around the idea that “the bigger the tragedy, the greater the images of the disaster, the more prominence it acquires.”
He is also heavily involved in charity work, founding YouthNet in 1995, a supportive website for young people, and acting as vice-president of three hospice and cancer support charities.
Lewis says he has seen growing evidence that people want to read about positive developments and believes there are even “small signs of change” in the national media.
“People are coming together in an infinite number of ways to work on an incredible variety of projects, which are having real and positive results. Their stories often simply do not get told.”
“Positive News is at the forefront of this movement,” he says, “and is truly tapping into this desire that people have. I’m hopeful that I can help continue and grow that momentum as patron.”
Lewis first met Positive News editor Seán Dagan Wood when they spoke at Good News for the Media, an event at the British Museum last year. Taking place against a backdrop of the Leveson inquiry, it seemed clear on this occasion that the issue of a need for more positive news in the media was being taken more seriously than ever before.
According to Wood, since becoming editor of Positive News it has been his intention for the newspaper to build bridges with the mainstream press and reach a wider audience. “So it was a natural progression that we started a conversation with Martyn, which led us to invite him to be our patron,” he said.
“With an extensive career as a highly respected broadcaster, Martyn has a wealth of experience and understanding of the inner workings of the media industry, which he is able to share with us. He’s seen how the media has developed a culture of focusing on the negative, and knows firsthand the impact of this type of reporting on both journalists and audiences.
“As Positive News’ patron, Martyn is adding to the credibility of this new aspect of journalism that we’re pioneering, which will help us to build links with other news organisations and new audiences. He will be advising Positive News as we continue to grow, helping us to reach our shared vision of a more constructive and balanced media.”