Scanning the cornucopia of television stations around the Christmas and New Year's holiday season, it's not unusual to come across more than a few 'feel-good' stories. News networks from CNN to Fox (in the U.S.) and Sky to the BBC (in Britain), are all uncharacteristically gushing with optimistically slanted news and human interest segments -- a much-needed respite from the usual sensationalistic doom and gloom.
This year in particular, the U.S., and humanity for that matter, got a dosage of how harsh the world can be, with the news of the slayings of 27 innocent people, mostly small children, at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Connecticut. But beyond the early reporting of incidents of heroics, how could there possibly be a positive take-away from this horrific event?
Such questions have become commonplace for myself and the small editorial staff I oversee at The Positive, a relatively new online London newspaper. Our aim: to report the constructive side of mainstream negative news, along with some curated positive news and of course features on events and people around London who are doing things out-of-the-box, in their own way, in a cool and visionary fashion.
So Sandy Hook, as well as stories about economic projections and such, feature heavily in our editorial work. Children do, too! Our kids' section is somewhat unique in that it is largely written by children aged 6 through 12. Their innocent, refreshing, but often insightful and questioning perspective is the epitome of positivity.
One of the exciting challenges I've faced in editing this grassroots publishing endeavor, is to balance positive, constructive, stories with a sense of edginess. There are plenty of amazing, optimistic sources of information out there online -- from the States to Europe and beyond. The Positive is cut from the same cloth as these noble publications in one sense, but being a London paper, our focus has been to keep things piquant and intellectually provocative (savvy Londoners expect this from their newspapers).
We ran a story on how the Jimmy Savile abuse scandal provided catharsis for many survivors, another piece on how the failed vote to allow female bishops in the Church of England was in its way paving the path for a new type of church, and a piece on media reform in the wake of Leveson.
Ultimately, I would love to see positive news become part of the mainstream global diet. However, I understand all too well -- and the aforementioned holiday-time positive story cherry-picking is a testament to this -- that mainstream readers need to be hooked into articles that are both relevant to them and on some level intriguing and riveting. Good news, although, a precious thing in and of itself, can sometimes feel more akin to an inspiring parable than in-line with hard-hitting topical subjects, when scrutinized by mainstream media consumers.
The Positive aims to capture the interest of these typical readers. One day, with a bit of luck and hard work, we won't have to package this as positive, as it will be the accepted norm to skew constructive in news coverage.
So, at this special time of year, in the wake of the cheerful holiday season, when the world's attention is on miracles, happiness and the positive side of the news, I am reminded how blessed I am to be able to oversee this sort of editorial content with the support of an amazing team, year-round.
This project has been a labor of love from the beginning as our publisher is wholly independent and doing this because she believes in positive news. But judging from our early response to the site -- another blessing -- it seems like people are hungry for an alternative to today's dark-edged mainstream news and media sources. That's why we're also looking to crowdsource the future of this publication through sponsorships, the way of the future: constructive change in the media, sourced grass roots, for the people by the people.
Follow Shana Ting Lipton on Twitter: www.twitter.com/ShanaTingLipton