An Optimistic Future of Journalism

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The news and all its glorified negativity can leave a reader feeling somewhat depressed. Some may say that this is because the world that we live in is depressing and the news is just reflecting our dismal reality back to us. These people would not be wrong, but they certainly wouldn’t be right either. This is partly true; there are some new, as well as continued, problems, corruptions, abuses and failures that need reporting on. But this is only a part of the story. The problem is, this part is enlarged to appear to be the whole thing; as if these stories are the only stories of significance.

In the news industry, these stories always have preference in terms of selection and display, they refer to this as “if it bleeds, it leads”. But this negative focus can create a distorted understanding of reality. We come to see the world through this inevitably troubled lens where we think the world is worse than it is and this colours the way in which we think, feel and act to global, local and even personal challenges.

A deliberate way to test your own assumptions about the state of the world is to answer the following question: in the last twenty years, has global poverty:

◊ doubled                             ◊ remained the same                     ◊ fallen by half

The answer is that it has fallen by half. If you got this answer correct, you would be amongst only 7 percent of the thousands of people who took this survey, who optimistically said the same. The remaining 93 percent believed it had either remained the same or doubled. This statistic highlights how many people dismiss the idea that things have improved as a result of learning about the world through such a negative news narrative. We are exposed to so much bad news in our modern media diet, we would not be fools to believe the world was in a state of decline.

Now would be a good time to highlight that the world has actually been moving in the opposite direction to that which the headlines would have you believe. Not only are people (globally speaking) more prosperous than in generations past, we have better health, better technology, better sanitation, less child mortality, higher IQs, fewer homicides and fewer wars than in any other period in history.

Fortunately, there are now news organisations that are helping us understand the progress and developments taking place. This is not with the aim of making us feel better but with the aim of making us know better. By widening the media lens, this kind of reporting allows us to sidestep the negative caricature that is painted for us by many news organisations and helps restore a sense of perspective and balance by not only telling us about the problem but also by telling us what we can do about it.

It is only by learning If you include solutions into your media diet, you are giving yourself the necessary information needed, over time, to feel inspired. By seeing others progress and develop in the face of personal, local, national or global challenges, it ignites a sense of possibility. It creates a feeling of optimism, hope and empowerment within ourselves which is the emotional fuel needed for us to mobilise our own potential. We too are able to be a positive force in this world, not by ignoring problems but by feeding ourselves the information we need to feel motivated and able to tackle them head-on. And with so many challenges facing the world, these are necessary psychological resources required to effect change.

The Correspondent, a pioneering and growing news organisation, is founded by noble principles that include solutions in their news cycle.  They have proved that their approach to the news is of tremendous value as their recent crowdfunding campaign raised over $2.6 million with over 45,000 founding members pledging their support. They say on their website “Consuming a lot of news can make you feel cynical and powerless. The Correspondent aims to counteract this effect by searching for common ground between different people, and by giving as much attention to solutions as we do to problems. We call this ‘constructive journalism’, not to be mistaken for ‘good news’. Constructive journalism tells the stories in a way that might get things moving in a different direction. We believe in journalistic activism, meant to bring about change.” It is because of organisations like this that I remain optimistic about the future of journalism.

Their member funded news model means that they are not serving the interests of organisations but are serving the people that support them. I am proud to be one of them. If you would like to become a member, you can do so here: https://thecorrespondent.com.

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