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Ever-aspiring to evolve their work as generative journalists, Axiom News team members do what they believe is a core element in creating change – engage in a conversation based on a provocative question.

A July 10 NPR article provides evidence that binging on bad news is, well, bad for us. The article cites a national report which found one in four of the 2,500 Americans surveyed had experienced a “great deal” of stress in the previous month — and that one of the biggest contributors to their day-to-day stress was their news diet.

We at Axiom News were honoured when our friend Dr. Lindsey Godwin of Champlain College tweeted the article and then pointed to our work as one of the antidotes to this negative, stress-producing media.

We definitely aspire to be part of creating a brighter future.

 
  A small group of Axiom News team members co-built this picture of what they believe enables thriving as a generative news team.

That said, the NPR article and Lindsey’s comment does give us pause.

First of all, we’re well aware that Axiom News is increasingly not the only player in the broader field of media that is — at the risk of over-simplifying — helpful and healthful. Both Images and Voices of Hope and Transformational Media have been doing some great work, most notably hosting conversations amongst current journalism professionals to explore new, more constructive approaches to news.

We’ve also had the privilege of storying Catherine Gyldensted in Denmark, who, after a personal breakdown while working as an investigative reporter — a breakdown she links in large part to the negative focus of her work and workplace — is paving the way for what she calls Constructive Journalism to have a stronger presence in her country.

Solutions Journalism is another facet of this evolution rapidly becoming more widespread.

We at Axiom News have been inspired to just see how many people with gifts and skills in media production seem to be increasingly drawn to creating news of a different hue.

But one question, in my mind at least, is how many people are actually consuming this alternative media?

In Axiom News’ case, while our readership does continue to grow, we’re nowhere near that of a mainstream publication. The reasons for that, of course, would be manifold.

For one, we know we can do better as effective storytellers — a slightly more tricky step, we feel, in our case, as we navigate “telling good stories” with our aspiration to create the conditions for new possibilities to emerge.

But I wonder if there’s also an element in this phenomenon that good or positive or generative news can tend to be just plain less magnetizing.

I don’t think it has to be. But it can be.

We’ve heard hints of this in some of our work. “People don’t want another rah-rah story,” we’re told.

Former New York Times editor Francis Flaherty writes about this phenomenon in his book, The Elements of Story: “The funny thing is that story about a striking achievement keeps reader and subject at a distance. After all, who can relate to such superhuman accomplishments?”

Let’s be honest, most of us find something magnetic about struggle and especially people that are vulnerable about their struggles. Perhaps it is because, as Henri Nouwen writes, the potential for our own healing exists in that openness as it does nowhere else. “Wounds and pains become openings or occasions for a new vision.” (The Wounded Healer)

Whatever the reason, I’m certainly not advocating that the answer is the continued delivery of news that has become the hallmark of the industry around the world.

But I do see a need for ongoing, deep and wise exploration of what exactly is the “alternative” that we as champions of the good or positive or healthful or generative or solutions-oriented or constructive journalism are seeking to put in place.

I realize this new field, if you will, is still is its early days. We’re all still figuring stuff out here — things can seem thin and are definitely unproven.

But what is our theory of change — really? And how are we trying to go about manifesting that theory — really? Have we considered the potential unintended consequences of our approach?

My guess/hope is that we get clearer and clearer about all that stuff, our news will manifest that meaning and flavor and richness that makes people want to, if not binge on it, at least “eat” it in good, healthful, life-giving chunks — and not just because they know it’s good for them — but because they love it.

  • More to Come

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Michelle Strutzenberger's picture
Michelle Strutzenberger

Michelle Strutzenberger brings more than 10 years of experience in writing, social media, curation and digital distribution. Subject areas of interest include creating abundant or deep communities, social-mission business, education that strengthens kids’ sense of hope and possibility and journalism that helps society create its preferred future. She is currently supporting the development of Axiom News podcasts. Contact Michelle at michelle(at)axiomnews.com.

Latest Blogs

A July 10 NPR article provides evidence that binging on bad news is, well, bad for us. The article cites a national report which found one in four of the 2,500 Americans surveyed had experienced a “great deal” of stress in the previous month — and that one of the biggest contributors to their day-to-day stress was their news diet.

Some pockets of local government, journalism and urban planning/engineering are running parallel tracks of transformation, I’ve been fascinated to observe recently.

On one of my last evenings in Barcelona a few of us gathered at a cozy shop in an old part of the city called La Villa de Gracias (the Village of Gratitude) to talk over mango milkshakes and crepes.

About a dozen people from about half-a-dozen countries gather in the coastal city of Barcelona, Spain this weekend to talk about the future of an effort they are all dedicated to — enabling local, strengths-based responses to community issues. I am honoured to join them at their invitation as a member of the Axiom News team.