Embracing the light: The power of positive writing

Quick: you get an assignment about a potentially damaging issue facing your county, state or nonprofit organization. You could do what many writers typically do, which is ream officials for poor decision-making that led to the current plight. Or you could choose a different tactic: go positive, and maybe help dig out a solution. Sometimes when an issue is tough, we think we need to assign blame and make someone “pay” for a problem. But that doesn’t actually do anything beneficial. While it is good to shine light and expose corruption, sometimes the plain truth is that a series of honest, human mistakes led to the current problem. Sometimes there really is no conspiracy, no back-room deal, no petty/snarky/good-ole-boy mentality at play. There’s just a problem that needs to be brought into the light, and a solution just waiting for dialogue.

In my world, Luke trumps Darth Vader. Good conquers evil. Nice kids finish first. And if we can all just get along, the world really will be a better place. Call me naïve, but I believe it. And I am firmly convinced that the power of positive thinking is sorely underrated in writing, particularly in journalism. Visualizing success works when it comes to weight loss, self-esteem and phobias. Why not when tackling difficult community issues?

So the next time you need to cover a tough issue, yes – absolutely report the facts. But when it’s time to go deep, instead of finger pointing, how about if you spend those extra column inches uncovering possible solutions the big players might recommend in order to fix the problem?

It doesn’t need to be negative to be intelligent – or beneficial.