The nature of the news business is to cover urgent, often tragic, events. While bad news attracts more engagement and attention from audiences, it also can contribute to feelings of anger and fear and, most recently, has been named as a reason for the growing trend of news avoidance.
In 2022, The Times of India (TOI) wanted to step away from some of the negative news and polarising rhetoric created by the pandemic and the conflict between Russia and Ukraine. It was a significant year, as India was celebrating 75 years of independence. TOI wanted to offer readers more reasons to acknowledge the past, celebrate the present, and build optimism about the future.
To do that, it created Times of a Better India, designed to showcase the many positive, inspiring stories typically overshadowed by big news stories.
Using TOI’s extensive nationwide network of journalists, TOI began compiling stories of India’s many successes and the progress it had shown since gaining its independence.
From India’s digital revolution to its advancements in art, conservation, agriculture, transportation, and more, Times of a Better India brought to light stories about the incredible advancements that had shaped India and poised it to continue thriving. What emerged was a picture of an “unstoppable India,” a country determined to continue moving forward toward even greater achievement.
Leveraging newspaper and digital access, TOI shared positive and encouraging stories to audiences of all ages, tailoring content to the format it was delivered in.
Through the printed newspaper, TOI shared 34 inspiring stories of previously overlooked successes by Indians. The in-depth coverage provided fresh insight into people, institutions, and organisations and included rare photos and infographics to help tell the story.
Online, TOI opened up its archives to share more than 100 additional positive stories, while readers were invited to share their own success stories. It also converted more than 30 stories into videos and used animations, source footage, drone shots, and photos to help tell the stories.
An additional video series celebrated people who are working for a better India in ways that don’t often make headlines, such as highlighting the first woman project director at the iconic Indian Space Research Organization (ISRO), a celebrated badminton player-turned-coach and the first woman to head the State Bank of India.
Audiences responded favourably to such a positive approach, as proven by the numbers:
- The online content generated nearly 12 million views and attracted 4.6 million unique users.
- More than 2,000 readers contributed success stories they had witnessed or lived through, opening up the conversation and creating more excitement and interest around the initiative.
- The video stories were viewed more than 2 million times.
- The video series celebrating unique individuals enjoyed more than 1.5 million views.
Engaging readers with contests
Keeping readers engaged was crucial in the campaign, so TOI developed two contests that fit The Times of a Better India theme:
- The Big Picture Contest asked readers to identify a visual representing one of the success stories but with a key element obscured. More than 220,000 users participated in the contest.
- The Caption Contest was aimed at school students and encouraged them to write captions for a series of inspiring pictures. Then, they were tasked with getting their families and friends to vote for their captions. More than 120,000 captions were submitted, and more than 670,000 votes were cast in the contest.
Overall, the engagement of this campaign showed how valuable positive news can be: More than 260,000 users registered on the Web site and the content received over 23 million online engagements, with 1.47 million hashtag interactions. The estimated digital reach was nearly 369 million, but the lasting positive inspiration it provided is impossible to measure.