For once football has given us a genuinely good news story.
Former Manchester United football stars Gary Neville and Ryan Giggs plan to turn the old Stock Exchange building in Manchester city centre into a boutique hotel. Conversion work is due to begin in February 2016. When the homeless group Manchester Angels occupied the building looking for shelter over the coming winter months, instead of rushing to have them evicted Neville let them stay. He is reported as saying “I am quite relaxed about this”.
What is unusual about the story is not just Neville and Giggs’s warm response to fellow humans in need. It is also that good news stories rarely make headlines in the media. That it was two famous footballers who had shown the act of kindness was no doubt a major reason for the extensive coverage. Nonetheless it highlights how infrequently good news stories get an airing. By and large we are fed a diet of disaster, evil, greed, conflict, crime and a multitude of other negative aspects of life.
Bad news sells. And there are of course a great number of very bad situations and events in the world. Bad things happen a lot. But so do good ones, and in much greater numbers than the media coverage suggests. They are simply not broadcast as much.
This matters because we are influenced by what we see and hear. Our view of others, the world we live in and our own feelings of happiness are affected by the media that bombard us. A person surrounded by negative thoughts and influences is likely to become more negative. Positive influences engender positive people. At very least a more honest and realistic balance is called for.
So when a friend suggested I might like to support the crowd-funding campaign of UK based Positive News I listened. Positive News describe themselves as:
“… the world’s first publication dedicated to reporting positive developments. We take a solution-focused perspective on the challenges facing society.
Through compelling and rigorous journalism, we aim to inform, inspire and empower our readers, while helping create a more balanced and constructive media.”
That felt worth supporting to me so in June, along with 1525 other people from 33 countries, I invested a small amount in this co-operatively owned media business to support their growth plans. That the co-operative has been crowed-funded by so many people, most of whom don’t know each other, is itself a piece of good news.
It turns out that Positive News are not alone in the independent good news space. In the USA Daily Good has 100,000 subscribers, while SunnySkyz has been promoting “positive stories and upbeat media” from Baltimore since 2012.
From its beginning in 1997, the website has been a clearinghouse for the gathering and dissemination of positive news stories from around the globe. Since 2006, our daily dose of ‘News to Enthuse’ has confirmed for thousands of fans what we already knew to be true — that good news itself is not in short supply; the broadcasting of it is.
Upworthy, an organisation that “draws massive amounts of attention to things that matter”, sends daily emails with 3 short positive news items. One of my recent favourites was about a boy in Scotland who drowned out a preacher’s homophobic rant with the sound of his bagpipes. Their highlights are inspiring or important or both.
I have blogged here about seriously bad news issues including Ebola and poverty. But more often than not I have written about the positive changes occurring amongst communities in Sierra Leone on both a societal and individual level. There is a lot that is good going on, from an adult taking a stigmatised Ebola orphan into their family, to Government efforts to promote education for girls, and our own modest efforts in funding primary schools.
So while recognising the enormous challenges facing people in Sierra Leone and the mountain of bad things that happen, The Millione Foundation would like to embrace the good news. The more we are aware of the good news the more we realise what is possible, and the more we can make it happen. The more it happens the more likely we are to hear about it and participate ourselves. And so the virtuous circle expands. Which sounds rather like a piece of good news.