Positive news is not the absence of bad news

Editorial: By giving attention to what is life-enhancing, Positive News offers a different lens on the world

Editorial: By giving attention to what is life-enhancing, Positive News offers a different lens on the world

Peace is not the absence of violence. It is the presence of something else. As Ella Matheson, who is advocating for a UK Department of Peace, points out, it’s something we can cultivate through practical efforts to support social and environmental wellbeing.

Peace is of course also, and perhaps fundamentally, an internal state: nonviolence is not a weapon, it is about personal transformation, says Gandhi’s grandson. This too is something we can nurture, as is empathy. We are hardwired to care, as Aaron Miller points out, writing about the benefits of experiencing culture shock when travelling. And we can widen our circle of compassion if we choose to.

Violence, corruption, exploitation, inequality and the difficulties we face should be exposed. But its healing, and the creation of a flourishing society, require that we also see our capacity for connection and co-operation, and the signposts to how we can individually and collectively thrive.

“Our readers, are fired up by stories that reveal our common humanity and how people are acting upon this.”

Something that’s clear from the feedback we get to the articles we publish, is that you, our readers, are fired up by stories that reveal our common humanity and how people are acting upon this.

And when we recently ran our feature about the future of the working week, there was a strong response, showing people’s desire for “financially, emotionally, intellectually and spiritually rewarding lives”. The response speaks of our intuitive sense of life’s potential.

At the heart of the stories we report on, there is a positive impulse. As an ecological perspective might see it, this reflects life attempting to create the conditions conducive to life. Spotlighting instances in which life is thriving is something I refer to when teaching with the Constructive Journalism Project – our new media training arm (which is currently delivering workshops at journalism schools and universities across the UK, from London to Glasgow, and this month, we begin lecturing internationally).

I explain to students that we can connect to this positive impulse in how we frame a story. It’s about bringing a constructive and compassionate mindset to rigorous reporting. In doing so we can create a fuller picture of truth, where we also highlight people’s strengths, reveal opportunities and potential solutions to problems, and engage audiences more deeply.

Because, positive news is not the absence of bad news. It gives attention to the presence of what is life-enhancing.

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In his regular Ecohustler column, Matt Mellen highlights the under-reported trend of “networks of citizens linking up to consciously change the world”. He picks up on these networks as alternatives to conventional institutions, which are working to create increasingly harmonious societies. He also emphasises the importance of the stories we tell each other and how they shape human culture.

It is from this understanding that Positive News offers a lens on the world: one which taps into our common humanity and potential.

Adapted from an editorial first published in the spring 2015 issue of Positive News. To receive a copy please become a member.

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