Good news is no news?

AP/Press association images

AP/Press association images

In 1993, BBC news presenter Martyn Lewis waged a campaign for the news to be less gloomy. “It is always the Good News stories that are demoted or dropped if there is pressure on time or space,” says an article from The Independent  drawn from his speeches.

“Judgements on the relative value of news stories have, on the whole, come to be based on the extent to which things go wrong. The bigger the tragedy, the greater the images of the disaster, the more prominence it acquires.” Lewis’ statements caused controversy. He claims it nearly cost him his job.

But did Lewis have a point?

That’s what former news editor Charlie Beckett seeks to find out in his documentary ‘Good News Is No News’ which aired on BBC Radio 2 on Sunday. In the programme he examines why wars, disasters and economic downturn dominate the news in an age in which humans are more peaceful and wealthy than ever, and talks to editors and journalists who are trying to frame the news in a more positive way.

Beckett asks Ariana Huffington about the Huffington Post’s Good News section, Seán Dagan Wood elaborates on Positive News, his print and online publication that deals strictly in good news, and our very own Rob Orchard explains how Slow Journalism relates to the positive news movement.

“I think that it might just be possible that we can have our news cake and eat it. The choice for the consumer and the journalist is not, after all a straight fight between good and bad news,” Beckett concludes.

“Negative news is not the same as critical journalism. The same digital technology that allows news to be faster, more accessible than ever, more globally miserable and graphic than ever, also allows it to be deeper, more self-critical and more intelligent than ever. The choice is there for the journalist, but it’s also there for consumers.”

Beckett’s documentary is a great listen and is available on the BBC iPlayer now. Click here to check it out.

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