The Good News magazine wants nothing other than a better world. In an interview with Beyondprint, co-founder and Head of Media & Communication, Florian Vitello, explains why better news is important for this – and why he is already looking forward to the printed edition.
Beyondprint: Good News Magazine is all about good news. In doing so, you hit a nerve: Every month, you reach hundreds of thousands, sometimes millions of people with the positive news. Why does the world need you right now?
Florian Vitello: Many people have the feeling right now that the world is very, very bad and everything is burning or about to go down the drain. But that’s a very big distorted picture. This is because traditional journalism is always looking for extremes. But our daily lives don’t revolve around the extremes, rather around the middle. We get sick of all the bad news. We get the feeling that the world is a much worse place than it actually is: there are a lot of great people out there and great initiatives and so much good that happens every day. That needs to be reported on. We have noticed especially in the pandemic that people are longing for good news.
Beyondprint: Your claim is “For a better world”. However, you don’t want to save the whole world at once, but first show what good things already exist…
Florian Vitello: Exactly – we are not world savers! We want to offer a platform for all those dedicated and great people out there who are doing a lot of good. On the one hand, there are the people who read our magazine. They should enjoy it and they should also be inspired. And on the other hand, it’s also important that the work of all the people out there who work for other people every day is appreciated. They do so many important things, they can afford to say, “I did a good job.” Because we have a particular tendency in activism to criticize quite a bit. That’s important, but we also can’t lose sight of what we’ve already accomplished. We have to be able to rejoice, we need that positive energy. Only then can we help other people with renewed motivation.
Beyondprint: Within this broad spectrum in journalism, from absolute neutrality to activism, where do you situate yourselves as journalists with an approach?
Florian Vitello: We are not neutral at all. Not at all, and not consciously. We want to show positive things. For one thing, this is because we know: Medically and psychologically, it is indeed the reality that bad news makes us sick. Perhaps many of us know this when we are out and about in the social media universe, and we see a message that is provocative – then we already know: Oh God, if I open the comments column now, 1,000 negative comments await me. And then we actually see bad comments and go to the next article, and keep coming across worse and worse comments. We’ re getting into a spiral there that just keeps going down. It’s called doom scrolling. We say, no, we have to get out of there. We do that deliberately, it’s called cognitive journalism. We also offer people positive news so that they are stimulated and activated. Because just as bad news makes us sick, good news releases dopamine in us. Against this background, there is no such thing as neutral journalism for us. We already determine what we find important through our choice of topics. We think about it in the team and in exchange with the community: What’s good, what’s beautiful, what’s pleasing, what’s inspiring? And then we report on these topics. But we don’t paint the world in rosy red. We’ve just had enough of other people painting the world black. That is, we actually want to be the canvas for all the beautiful colors that exist in the world.
Beyondprint: Speaking of community, you offer three subscription levels for your magazine, each of which makes you part of your community. How important is this relationship with your readers for you?
Florian Vitello: We have an absolute dream community. I say that quite honestly because we have an insanely active readership. We get a great deal of comments and letters, almost always positive and constructive. Many people praise us for what we do, and that makes us happy, of course. On the other hand, the community also provides thematic input and challenges topics. This has already resulted in good stories and contacts with interview partners. That’s why we’re very grateful. But we are not afraid of becoming a closed echo chamber: Our community will also criticize us if it doesn’t like something. We are always trying to realign ourselves dynamically and are open to new ideas. But beyond that, we naturally want to move further into the mainstream, because we take our mission very seriously. We want to transform journalism and we want to take it further. And to do that, we just need to reach a lot more people – starting with our subscriptions alone. We need to show more people that they can also support us by subscribing to us. That way our community can grow and support our mission of fact-based, fairer and more positive journalism.
Beyondprint: So far you’re an online-only magazine, but you’ve already revealed that you’re dreaming of a print edition….
Florian Vitello: First of all, we love print! We’re all like that in our team. If we really want to enjoy content, we have to feel it, we have to be able to touch it. We have to be able to flip through the pages, we have to be able to smell it. Reading our own stories fresh off the presses is what drives us personally and excites us. Beyond that, we don’t think print is dead. For example, we are big fans of Katapult magazine and find the story behind it very impressive. That’s where we find ourselves to a certain extent. Our gut feeling is that it’s simply about offering something that’s unique. And we believe that our product is unique and so beautiful that it’s worth printing. We hope that there are people who might be interested in holding a magazine in their hands that they can flip through. Whether that’s in the bathroom or in the waiting room or on the balcony – wherever people enjoy positive and sometimes very timeless stories that can be very inspiring. We see ourselves as a cross-media medium, and print is just as much a part of that as the podcast.
Beyondprint: Florian, thank you for the interview!