NEGATIVE NEWS CAN MAKE YOU ILL … TRY POSITIVE NEWS INSTEAD

I frequently moan about the media, the way they never produce a properly-balanced, nuanced article … the way they concentrate on bad news …. the way they whip up fear and then feed it … all the negative stuff … the sensationalised stories … the obsession with so-called ‘celebrities’ … etc etc etc

And I do know people who have simply stopped listening to or reading or looking at the news.  It makes them too depressed.

But at last – there is such a thing as a Positive News publication   … wow!  Here one of the journalists makes the case for it:

positive news

‘I hate reading newspapers. That probably sounds a little strange, coming from a journalist, but it’s true. It’s not that I don’t want to find out what’s happening in the world, it’s just that it’s all so relentlessly depressing. People are killing each other. The economy is in tatters. Your favourite food is going to kill you.

Often it is not the facts of the stories themselves that are so terrifying, but the way they are reported. Driven by sales figures, editors choose attention-grabbing drama over less colourful but more worthy stories, so that our papers are filled with terrorism and political scandal and celebrity sex, and we don’t hear about the rise of the sharing economy or how volunteers are making a difference in flood-ravaged Somerset.

Scaremongering headlines convince us that the end is nigh, even if it’s just a remote possibility, and since most of us don’t get past the first few paragraphs of any story (if that) we tend to miss the balanced argument (if indeed there is one). And so our view of the world is shaped by negative soundbites, and we either become discouraged and apathetic, changing the channel or flicking through to the lifestyle pages to avoid the bleak ‘realities’ of the news, or we become addicted to the endless stream of hype.

Neither option is ideal. The apathy that comes with a diet of stories about terrible things we can’t change makes us passive; we no longer believe we can make a difference, and so we don’t even try. On the other hand, if we keep feeding our obsession with the Oscar Pistorius trial or the ever fluctuating (but always doomed) economic situation, we can actually do ourselves psychological and physical harm – a story in The Guardian last year stated that “news is toxic to your body”, triggering the limbic system and releasing cortisol, the so-called “stress hormone”.

Thankfully, there is an alternative. The positive news movement is gaining ground – albeit slowly – as people begin to search for a way to stay informed without the need for antidepressants. Rooted in positively psychology, this new style of media calls for a solutions-focused approach that doesn’t skirt the issues but does avoid sensationalising them. It also seeks out stories that highlight the people and initiatives making a difference to the world.

One of the leading publications in this campaign for a more balanced viewpoint is Positive News, which was founded in 1993 and aims to “inform, inspire and empower our readers, while helping create a more balanced and constructive media”. Despite not being able to pay as well as the nationals (there’s a reason why the big boys print the stories they do), I write for this dedicated and passionate team, and recently took part in a short promotional video about them, because I believe that we need more headlines like Brazil takes steps to save threatened tribe and New reforms for children in care ‘most significant in a generation’.

Next time you pick up a newspaper, or flick over to the evening news, be aware of the effect it is having on your well-being… and then make a change. Challenge the views you are being presented with, dig deeper into a story and find out what the truth of the matter is, get hold of a positive news publication in print or online, and remember that no matter what the media tells you, you can make a difference. Oh, and rest assured – the odd teaspoon of sugar probably won’t kill you.’  (Rin Hamburgh)

You can find out more here:

http://positivenews.org.uk/

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25 thoughts on “NEGATIVE NEWS CAN MAKE YOU ILL … TRY POSITIVE NEWS INSTEAD

  1. I enjoy reading the weekend FT for this reason. The newspaper often has stories about exciting projects going on in different parts of the world, charity workers, new scientific discoveries, arts and the like. I don’t get it every week, but I do enjoy it when I do. I just want the facts and I will make up my own opinion. Oh – and no celebrities 😀

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  2. I really am tired of the media homing in on negative news and milking it to within an inch of it’s life. It would be so nice to just hear the news without hype, whether it be good or bad, I like to know what is happening in the world but I like to hear it reported truthfully and without drama. The media does seem to have a problem with good news, I often wonder why!!xxx

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    1. Absobloominglutely :yes: :yes: :yes:

      And I don’t get it either – why do they think that people won’t buy their papers if they put in good news???? :??:

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    1. I don’t expect news to be positive all the time – that would be just as much a distortion as the negative stuff we get force-fed now! What we need is honest, balanced reporting.

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  3. Yes, I’ve heard of this. We need positive news stories to counter balance the tsunami’s of negativity which flood our lives. The Daily Mail should hang its head in shame.

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  4. The writer is without doubt a journalist who is very new to offering the positive news aspect of life; his blurb went on too long, at times losing my confidence in what he was selling. It is not necessary to avoid the skills associated with precis, it is vital to keep and use them; in fact it can be a great way to make a succinct, or, a lesser point, or any point that journal thinks will be salient to appealing to an audience. The writer uses the same scare tactics as any other journalist wanting to be part of publishing a paid for journal, or, at least, a journal that will be read.

    I don’t wish to be manipulated with scare tactics from any standpoint.

    The good news might be that there may be a publication that will balance off the current media presentations.

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      1. :)) I do think that ‘only’ positive news would be just as much of a distortion as the relentlessly negative. Oh for proper, well-researched, honest, nuanced and balanced reporting! I tend to find the World Service gets the nearest to this.

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      2. I used to be able to tune into the World Service very easily when I lived near ‘the centre of the universe’. The word tend is all- important, notwithstanding, i feel as you do about new production sources.

        🙂

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  5. I discontinued buying a daily Times three years ago as I threw away more of the paper than what I read. I’m heartily tired of the celebrity culture we are bombarded with, but I do miss the cross word in the Saturday edition!

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    1. Hub just takes the ‘i’ these days, but I find that the papers, TV and radio all seem to be in the same cartel to offer the same pieces of news over and over again.

      You can buy books of crosswords! Go to amazon.co.uk and you’ll be able to buy Times crosswords 😉

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  6. Actually in my school ( Bradford Grammar School ) challenging what you read and what you hear and what you see was the central plank of education. At Oxford University you need to think at least 3 times before opening your mouth.

    It shouldn’t need to be retold if the young people are having a good education. David.

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    1. Of course many people, including me, constantly challenge all they hear and see and read – that’s what this journalist has done. What I’m complaining about is the absence of properly-informed news reporting. Frequently it’s done as lazy journalism, just battening on to a few ‘spun’ facets and failing to do justice to the whole subject. If people are prepared to write about some of the positive things happening in the world for a change, I for one am delighted!

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    1. Yes indeed – wouldn’t it be great if it put the dailies out of existence 😉 but I somehow can’t see that happening – we would all feel we would be missing something!

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