A local newspaper group has decided to print only positive stories. Hacks may splutter, but readers and advertisers love it.
"All the news that's fit to print" is The New York Times's famous slogan, but a British publisher has decided that the only stories worthy of publication are positive ones. "Unless it's a positive story we would not print it," says John Mappin, the owner of a chain of free titles in central and west London. "All we are interested in is positive, helpful stories."
Mappin thinks he's on to something. "If someone has a diet of 'negative, horror, bombs, killings', that is going to do something to them. What it does I'm not entirely sure, but it's not a mood improver."
So he ignores the court roundups, crime stories and council blunders that fill most local papers. "We run positive stuff on the council for doing improvements in the local area," he says. "We did a wonderful story on the Kensington police having cut the crime rate. They were delighted, because a lot of people give them a hard time."
"We're interested in little human-interest stories. Tales of triumph over adversity. Pick up a typical local paper and somebody's died after being hit by a car. Turn the page and there's an old lady who's been beaten up. This is terrorising local people."
Mappin published a front-page editorial titled "Dear Friends". It said: "We have decided that from now on we will only print positive news and stories about positive people or situations. It has become obvious from our observation of the media business that forwarding bad or negative news does not help people or help business."