Positivity all round as Bedford Independent launches good news filter

Bedford Independent Good News home page
The Bedford Independent's good news filter is in the news menu on the website's home page.

The Bedford Independent is giving the feel-good factor across Bedford Borough a boost, with a new filter that only shows good news when selected from the news menu on the website’s homepage.

To help show Bedfordians that news isn’t always negative, all stories with a positive angle, from community to charity, arts and culture to sport, will now be tagged with ‘good news’, so readers can see in one place, all the excellent things that happen on our doorstep.

All previous stories with a positive angle have also been tagged meaning there are now thousands of good news articles available at the click of a button or tap of a finger.

The team at Bedford Independent decided to create the filter after comments on social media suggested local news was only ever negative.

“We know, as far as our reporting is concerned, that is simply not true,” said Paul Hutchinson, one of the co-founders and a co-managing editor of the Bedford Independent.

“Being as close to our content as we are, we know we write a large amount of positive news stories, but appreciate some readers may not see everything we write.

So, we started to mark appropriate articles with a ‘good news’ tag, so we could easily see if some readers were right. Is local news mostly negative?”

Thankfully, it was found that content published by the Bedford Independent is overwhelmingly positive, with 2,556 articles now tagged as good news; that’s about 32% of all content on the site.

To put that into context, the next largest story tag group is about Bedfordshire Police with 896 stories, just 11% of all content.

“Articles we publish not marked as good news aren’t necessarily going to be bad news either,” explains Paul. “Many of these articles will be neutral, such as those for information, opinion pieces, or columns.

“It’s clear that Bedford Borough really does have lots of positive news to report on from across our towns, villages and communities, and we’ll continue to do that.”

Why does the news always seem negative?

So, why do some people believe news is only ever negative? While there are publications that do seem to push negative news more, generally there is a good mix of positive and negative news across publishers collectively.

Studies have shown, however, that people do gravitate towards and remember negative news more.

A 2014 study at McGill University in Canada found what researchers believe is solid evidence of ‘negative bias’, a term psychologists use for our collective hunger to hear, and remember bad news.

People in the study were watched with eye-tracking software to see what stories they chose to read across a news website. The stories they chose to read the most were those with a negative tone.

That’s despite stories with a neutral or positive tone also being available to choose from.

It also found that people who were more interested in current affairs and politics were more than likely to choose bad news too.

However, when interviewed, the people taking part in the study said they preferred good news, with many adding they believed the media is too focused on negative stories.

“We see examples of negative bias when people add comments on social media to our stories,” adds Paul.

“People will say things like, ‘Another negative story?’ or ‘Why don’t you report on good things?’ some will even go so far as to say ‘Bedford is rubbish, nothing good ever happens’.”

“It’s frustrating because Bedford has so much going for it. There is so much going on and we have such positivity all around us thanks to brilliant Bedfordians, as is proven by our Everyday Heroes Awards that we run every year.

“If those readers had just used the search function on our website or signed up for our daily email, they’d probably realise there is so much more than just bad news to read.

“Now, all Bedford Independent readers need to do is simply click ‘good news only’ under the news menu on our homepage.”

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