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Innovating Positive Journalism

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Consuming and producing news reports have a substantial negative emotional impact on both users and journalism professionals. This is a concern for both the journalism profession and for society. Does positive reporting and positivity have a place within already existing foundational values and ethics in journalism? Key findings from positive psychology may be particularly relevant to media workplaces.

To test this notion in the realm of news reporting, 710 participants completed an online experiment. Participants read a negatively valenced classic style news story and one of five experimentally manipulated variants, which drew on positive psychology principles to slightly alter the language and emotional valence. Participants completed measures of affect and offered impressions of the media. Across participants, affect significantly declined after reading the classic story. Results support the detrimental impact of classic-style news reports, and suggest that it may take multiple positive news stories to counter the emotional impact of a single negative story. Some positive versions proved more effectual for inducing positive emotion, whilst still being viewed as fair and balanced reporting. Despite strong core ethics in journalism of minimizing harm, news reporting is often more focused on repairing damage, thus promoting a disease model of human functioning and negatively affecting human flourishing. However, news media has strong potential for innovation by drawing on the principles of positive psychology. This potential is described and concrete suggestions given.

www.repository.upenn.edu

 

Many of us went into journalism with a desire to help change the world. And yet, working in traditional media often leaves us feeling frustrated. The lack of editorial interest in genuine solutions to the problems facing society makes it hard for journalists to break the negative news cycle. There often is another side to a story we report on: examples of positive change, of resilience and transformation, and of exciting possibilities. We know that our audiences love to hear about it. But how do we go about telling these stories effectively and using our journalism as a force for good?

Increasingly, media globally are starting to realise that they can report in a more inspiring way, while not just upholding but in fact strengthening all the standards of quality reporting. Some call it ‘solutions journalism’, others ‘positive reporting’, but it is about more than just focusing on what works. It is a way of presenting a fuller picture within conventional reporting, which is more empowering and engaging for audiences and more beneficial to society. Ultimately, it is about constructive journalism.
www.constructivejournalism.org/faq

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