Positive news is not advertising. Slow journalism is not laziness.
I read a lot. I really read a lot. I love it and is an essential part of my job. As a journalist, I usually read articles, essays, and books about journalism, publishing, and interior design. Some time ago, my attention has been caught by several articles about slow journalism and positive news. To be more specific, I’ve read (and watched) the following inspiring material:
- «Informarsi con lentezza. Sette lezioni di giornalismo contro l’infobesity» [book] — available only in Italian, a must read for those of you who believe in a slow approach to journalism.
- «What can digital media learn from magazines?» [article] — Kati Krause about what are the lessons learned that can be applied both to digital and printed media and the importance of slowing down a bit.
- Rob Orchard talk at TEDxMadrid — Orchard shared his personal experience with Delayed Gratification, the magazine he founded.
- Annamaria Testa «Pubblicare buone notizie: perché è difficile. E come riuscirci» [article] — available only in Italian, this article talks about how difficult publishing positive news is and how to make them more appealing for the readers.
Reading all those opinions, made me think a lot about what kind of journalism I want to support and contribute to developing.
I am definitely a fan of slow journalism. I still believe in research and fact-checking before writing an article. I am also deeply convinced that a journalist/content editor/writer… has an important responsibility. He/she can influence people and he/she should manage this power carefully, being as objective as possible. No matter the topic. This doesn’t mean that a journalist cannot be positive or particularly critical. The important thing is that readers understand the reasons why he/she is positive or critical. He/she should “adduce pieces of evidence” in support of what he/she is writing.
Especially for topics such as interior design and travel (the ones I know better), there is objectively no need for continuous updates. With all due respect, it’s not politics or breaking news. Fast news in the design industry, for instance, can be transformed into «in-depth contents» (not necessarily in terms of the total amount of written characters). In this way, the story itself plays its role as a part of the design product/project I am talking about and it can highlight the peculiarity of the project over a different one.
Time makes the difference when it comes to accuracy.
The second set of thoughts I had after the readings mentioned above, regards the topic of positive news. Lately, I am under the impression that more and more professionals and readers confuse positive news with advertising. To me, there is a clear difference between sponsored content and positive articles. But it seems that good news can be easily perceived as advertorial, silly, overly sentimental or rhetorical —see points 5 and 6 of the numbered list of Annamaria Testa —
I am quite sensitive to this topic because I usually write about designers and creatives around the world with a positive attitude. And I wouldn’t want my articles to be perceived as pieces of content marketing.
Look, I went into journalism to do journalism, not advertising – Michael Hostings
Don’t get me wrong. I am not condemning branded content or advertising. I am just suggesting to keep in mind that they are completely different from journalistic contents that are informative, educational and — why not? — positive. And, as for the online magazines, you will always find the label “sponsored content” in case of advertorials. Otherwise only the sensibility and the competence of the journalist are speaking.
I will not stop telling positive stories. This world needs them. People are still thirsty for positive news and I think newspapers and media, in general, should find a better balance between them and bad news. I think there is no better way to conclude this post with a quote from a feature wrote by Rachel Stern «Not just kittens: the need for more good news».
Good news should not equate to less critical or independent journalism.