We live in uncertain times. The whole Western world is in a long economic crisis, and many people now believe they will have to live with less in coming decades. Few are motivated to spend now — certainly not on luxury items and perhaps not even on newspapers.
Is it naive to believe newsmedia can do something to help people believe in a positive future? And is it naive to believe that, by providing positive news, newsmedia can become more relevant for more people? I think it’s worth trying.
What triggered me to write this, and to start thinking about it, was one simple statistic: Just 14% of all tweets are negative. That means 86% of all tweets are about positive things. People send tweets because they think the rest of the world needs to know something. Most of the time the ambition is to send relevant messages. And they’re positive. People seem to believe that positive news is more relevant to the audience.
Well, that’s interesting news. And perhaps a big opportunity. It indicates it’s simple to ask your research department or a marketing student to do an analysis of the last 12 editions of your newspaper. Find some simple variables to define whether an article is positive or not. Count the number of positive articles, measure the amount of positive text, and compare it to the whole newspaper. See how much positive news is found on the front page.
Do the same with competitors, especially those who performed well in recent years. When you’re finished, publish the results on INMA.org.
My hypothesis is that people prefer to read what they prefer to write. Positive news. Inspiring stories. Good examples. Fresh ideas. Which is not to say I don’t believe in investigative journalism, sharp analysis, and critical questions. On the contrary. But I strongly believe that, in these times, readers, viewers, or listeners are open for stories that give them hope, inspiration, and examples that can make them stronger to fight in these difficult times.
People need vision, leadership, help. My belief is people look for institutions that will give them a helping hand to focus on the future. It’s not really helpful to read day after day that our economy is crashing. I believe what people really want to read is: “We will crash if we do not react. But we can react, and we will show you ways to do so.”
Positive news. Impossible? Not at all. Just Google “positive news” and you’ll find sites such as www.dailyinspirenews.com, www.positivenews.net, positivenews.org.uk, and many others. Their success is marginal, but it’s a sign. Maybe your research will find a correlation between positive news and success in readership figures.
I see it as a chance, an opportunity to act, to bring positive energy. Readers are more happy with positive energy than negative energy.