With terror, strife and hatred often dominating today’s headlines, news outlets can become hostile environments for readers – stories about hardship weigh heavy on our consciences, and truly good stories seem harder and harder to find.
But a challenger emerges: Goodnewspaper, a quarterly print newspaper that wants to combat the scourge of negative news by publishing only positive, uplifting news from around the world.
The Goodnewspaper project is the brainchild of Branden Harvey, a Nashville-based social media guru and speaker bent on telling stories of hope and goodness to anyone who will listen. In fact, Harvey is obsessed with good news – when I sat down and spoke with him, the first thing he asked me was, “Are you having a good day?”
Branden Harvey. (Source: Instagram)
Though his background is in photography, Harvey is no stranger to crafting positive messages. He’s helped brands as big as Disney, Southwest and Hilton tell their stories with his pictures; Harvey said his work in the marketing business taught him “how to connect people and ideas with empathy.” Harvey no longer considers himself a photographer – he’s a storyteller. He realized a few years ago that through his photography he had amassed a significant audience across Instagram and Twitter “almost on accident.” That’s when things changed for Harvey.
He explained, “I was thinking, ‘how can I do things that matter?’”
His decision to focus on storytelling happened to coincide with what Harvey referred to as his “breaking point” with negativity in the news. “[I was] exhausted and overwhelmed by terrorism, injustice, economic inequality, sickness and disease,” he said. “I didn’t know how to respond to all this.”
But respond he did, and not long after, Harvey started a podcast, “Sounds Good with Branden Harvey,” dedicated solely to starting “hopeful conversations with optimists and world-changers.”
Since then the weekly podcast has told the stories of dozens of influential creators and changers, including notables like author/illustrator Dallas Clayton and alternative music artist Sleeping at Last.
From “Sounds Good” came Goodnewsletter, a weekly newsletter containing links to five positive stories from around the world. Branden curates the news himself, a process he said started as a labor of love but eventually became easier and easier. “I love the newsletter for the simple fact that I was challenged to find good things that [were happening] in the world,” he said. “But every time I see a piece of good news I add it to my list. Now I have a huge ongoing list – I never think ‘I don’t have anything this week.’”
When I asked him why he decided to transition from a newsletter to a newspaper (besides the great play-on-words), he told me that, for him at least, “tangibly holding good news in your hand is really important.” He compared it to collecting vinyl records: while most people are content to consume their music through iTunes and streaming services, there is no shortage of enthusiasts who will go out of their way to purchase the physical, analog versions of their favorite songs and albums.
“It’s a very funny time to start a journalistic project in light of everything like #FakeNews, and it’s crazy to start a print newspaper,” Harvey said. “But people still love physically owning things, and I think people really care about good news. Now they can have it sitting on their coffee table!”
Today, Goodnewspaper is just starting to take shape, and things are looking up. Their Kickstarter, which ended last week, finished more than $25,000 of their original goal of $26,500, a far happier ending than Harvey anticipated. “I was sick for a week before we launched,” Harvey said. “I didn’t know if people would rally around it. But we know we’re able to scale bigger than we could have ever imagined, and we’re really excited about getting this thing in as many hands as possible.”
Harvey has graduated from being a one-man show to working with a full team of editors, authors and artists to assemble the paper. He said putting the project together has been “crazy on a logistical level,” but altogether, the whole process has been fun and positive.
As far as content goes, Harvey said the paper will have a “good balance between stories that we are coming across on our own and stories that are coming to us.”
The publishing schedule means Goodnewspaper won’t be able to hit on current events, but Harvey is excited about being able to focus on long-term projects. “We don’t have to have journalists on the ground showing up to everything,” he said. “We get to sit back and look for the helpers.”
When I asked him about where he wants to take Goodnewspaper in the future, Harvey assured me that his team is taking things one step at a time. “There are tons of crazy, ridiculous things we could do,” he said. “Year two, do we turn it into a weekly paper? Daily? Turn it into an app? The goal now is just to continue to grow and get people onboard.
“Right now, we just know that we want this paper to keep on going.”
Cover image source: Instagram (@brandenharvey).
May 22 2017