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Positive News

In articles, good stuff, news on April 1, 2011 at 7:02 am
Is no news good news?
by Despina Pavlaki
23 Jan 2011

FOUNDED in 1993, Positive News was the result of a deep imbalance in the media, which was fast becoming a harbinger of bad news. Committed to showcasing positive initiatives, the UK-based newspaper struck a chord with a lot of people who firmly believed the world wasn’t all doom and gloom.
Published quarterly, the feel-good newspaper covered the world and soon began infiltrating major cities, with offices springing up in New York, Hong Kong, Madrid and Argentina. A radio show followed suit.
At a time when an increasing number of Greeks have resolved to avoid TV news bulletins altogether to maintain their sanity, Positive News sheds an uplifting light on reality that the local media would do well to take into account.
On the eve of a major makeover, including a radical redesign, rebranding and a new website, Positive News has been keeping editor Sean Dagan Wood pretty busy, but he still found time to share his good-news approach to current affairs with the Athens News.
Athens News: How bombarded by negative news do you feel at the moment?

Sean Dagan Wood: There are unprecedented challenges facing the world right now and it’s certainly important to report problems and disasters, but this is not the full picture. It’s a limited approach and people are overwhelmed by it, to the point where some avoid the news altogether.
The media is stuck in a collective bad habit. There are some fantastic publications and journalists out there but, as a whole, there is a predominant sensationalised approach. Too many media organisations pursue sales by creating articles that trigger people’s fear and cynicism, where we want to trigger people’s joy, compassion and belief in humanity.
Does the Positive News approach carry over to your personal life?
I believe that what we focus on grows. When we give something our attention, when we think about it, have conversations about it and so on, this all has an effect: personal, social, cultural, political…
It’s a real shame that the media create so much despair – it’s a regular waste of human potential. Without ignoring the troubles of the world, if we put our focus on solutions and envision a positive future, we could actually help create it.
Is there one piece of positive news that has stuck with you throughout this experience?
We run so many stories about individuals and groups creating positive change that it’s hard to choose just one. In our current issue we did a feature on Sushil Koirala, a 28-year-old from Nepal who has been visiting conflict areas on a number of continents, bringing people together through ‘rose rallies’.
These basically consist of a simple exchange of roses between strangers but have a very significant effect. Koirala has now distributed over 6,000 roses, helping calm tensions and promoting a message of peace and co-operation in places such as the Nepal-India border.
We also cover news with broader significance and address current affairs. There’s a report on plans in the UK to measure the country’s wellbeing and use the findings to inform government policy, for example. This could lead to a new measure of progress that is based on the quality of people’s lives, not just how much money the national economy makes.
And it’s not just in Britain. Other countries are considering it, too, which shows a potential shift towards a reassessment of society’s fundamental goals. Our global model of pursuing endless economic growth is depleting the world’s finite natural resources. It’s creating gross inequalities and is beginning to show signs of severe fragility.
Measuring wellbeing could help lay the foundations for an economic model that is sustainable, fair and serves the real needs of all people.
Do you ever tire of swimming against the tide? Maintaining your views in the face of a crumbling economy can be pretty hard.
One of my favourite things about editing Positive News is that I get a unique insight into the scale of the global effort to create a sustainable, just, equitable, healthy and fulfilling future. It’s happening in people’s individual lives, in communities, in organisations and even in sections of governments.
And Positive News brings all that together in the same place, revealing a vast and diverse movement for positive social and environmental change. It’s what author Paul Hawken calls the “movement with no name” and is often below the radar of the mainstream media’s focus. Sometimes it may feel like we are swimming against the tide, but the tide is starting to turn.
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