Wednesday, October 1, 2014

The media discover good news

Have you noticed something new in news coverage recently? Maybe, even, something a little . . . positive?

The Columbia Journalism Review has. It has identified a new trend – the news media emphasizing upbeat, good-news stories. And it even says that they are good for business.

To me, the new attention to positive, inspiring stories has been most obvious in network news. All the national prime-time news shows now end their half-hour with an uplifting piece that can often lead to misting around the eyes. Of course, the morning shows regularly emphasize upbeat pieces, as does CBS Sunday Morning. And even 60 Minutes seems to present more profiles of role models and heroes than the investigative exposés that used to be their forte.

But CJR shows that the trend goes far beyond TV. It has evolved into its own successful brands: Huffington Post Good News, ABC Good News, websites like Positive News and the Good News Network. And just this month, the Washington Post is launching a new newsletter for its digital subscribers called The Optimist. (Here’s a sample, courtesy of CJR.)

The trend is controversial in journalism circles. Is it leading down the path away from real news and toward entertainment, like the websites that offer a steady parade of cute cats and dogs? It is attracting sponsors, and eyeballs, and making money for media outlets, but is it news?

To communicators, it raises another question: Will the discovery of good-news stories open the door for more articles that are, just, positive?

Stay tuned.

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