Arianna Huffington to media: ‘Give people hope so they can be empowered’ to make changes
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One year ago today, Pierre Omidyar interviewed Arianna Huffington about how the media can create social change. This topic is at the heart of ivoh’s work, so we wanted to resurface the interview and feature some highlights from it.
Journalists tend to view themselves as “the observer and the reporter” and fear they “will become cheerleaders for a particular cause and partisan” if they try to create meaningful awareness and change, Huffington told Omidyar. She sees it differently.
“Putting the spotlight on what is working is a huge obligation in what the media need to be doing, and I don’t think we’re doing a very good job of that,” she said. “I’ve tried at the Huffington Post to create dedicated sections that deal specifically with what is positive, with what is happening around the world that is actually advancing social change and having a positive social impact because then you can scale the good things happening.”
The Huffington Post has a “Good News” section and a “What Is Working” section that focuses on job creation and features content from small business owners and entrepreneurs. The Good News section receives 5 million unique visitors each month, “so it’s not true to say that only ‘if it bleeds, it leads,'” Huffington said.
“We’re doing the Good News section in every country we go to. Sometimes it’s not a full section, but it’s a part of our coverage.” Recent research has shown there’s a growing interest in stories that highlight uplifting news, positive change and solutions to social problems. “I think the zeitgeist now encourages these things,” Huffington said.
She pointed out that this growing interest creates an opportunity for the media to tell more uplifting stories and, in some cases, to make money off them. Many brands, she said, now want to be associated with social causes like job creation, wellness, and global maternal health — and are willing to sponsor content around it. The Huffington Post’s “What Is Working” section, for instance, is sponsored by Goldman Sachs.
There’s a larger goal in creating content that highlights social change. It has to do not just with informing people, but with inspiring them to make positive choices and changes. “Part of what we need to do — and this is connected to good news — is give people hope so they can be empowered to change their own lives and change the way politics works, business works,” Huffington said. “People are inherently good. We need to do everything we can to encourage these better angels of our nature.” You can watch the full interview here: