Positive News Stories Really Do Make A Difference, Study Finds

In news organizations, negative news stories tend to dominate the headlines, and that tendency is captured in one quote:

"If it bleeds, it leads."

Many publishing companies have taken this statement to the extreme. But instead of following along with the rest of the world, one group is trying to help us take a different approach to journalism.

The Constructive Journalism Project set out to research positive news outlets to see how positive news affects their readers' well-being and mental state of mind. In one research paper titled "Publishing the Positive," independent researcher Jodie Jackson found that positive news stories can empower, inspire and unite groups of people in society.

"Participants expressed that an excess of negative news led them to see the negative in other people, and feel isolated from society," Jackson said. "However, the opposite was experienced when participants read positive news, which created a sense of admiration for other people and 'restored [their] faith in humanity'."

News stories focused on solutions, rather than problems, were proven to improve the person's well-being and belief in their ability to make a difference or self-efficacy. Hope, optimism, and engagement in the problem also increased with those who read more news stories.

Flickr | Jon S

But Jackson and the rest of the Constructive Journalism Project want to focus on more than just "positive news," which is just a part of the overall goal of the project. Constructive journalism describes how the journalist approaches and reports a topic, whereas positive news describes the content that is reported by constructive journalists.

This doesn't mean journalists need to ignore negative news altogether.

"Positive and negative news stories should not compete, but co-exist," said Jackson. "We need to notice achievements alongside failings in order to understand the world more accurately."

Amen, Jackson. We're glad to know that the good news we aim to share via The Delite has a positive impact on readers.

Maybe we should come up with a different news adage: "If it's positive, let it live."

Eh, we'll keep working on that one.