Interview

April 26, 2017

Making Positive Headlines with Goodnewspaper

All Goodnewspaper images courtesy of Branden Harvey.

Mainstream media can often be an overwhelming conduit for sensationalism and fear mongering. It is often difficult to discern what is real news. Which stories have been exaggerated or purely fabricated? Who should you believe? Why does it feel like the world is falling apart? Where are the stories about heroes and positive progress?

Stocksy photographer Branden Harvey was asking himself those questions just over a year ago when he decided he’d had enough. He launched the campaign to create Goodnewspaper, “A quarterly print newspaper that shines a light on the people, ideas and movements that are changing the world for the better.”  Branden’s wish is to invite readers to join a global community of positive news and information exchange. He hopes Goodnewspaper will encourage readers to become good news by providing tangible action steps for making positive change.

We caught up with Branden to get some insider info about how a photographer started a movement of hope.

Hey, Branden! Thanks for taking some time to chat with us. You’re a photographer gone rogue into the world of writing and publishing for the greater good. What a journey! How did you transition from being a photographer to a storyteller?

Oh my gosh, I have absolutely no idea. Ha! In a lot of ways, where I’ve ended up has been accidental. When I first started my career as a photographer, I was 16. I took a class in high school that allowed me to use a DSLR camera for a year and it changed everything for me. (Shoutout to my photography teacher Mr Winchell!) Photography is how I learned how to take risks. It’s how I discovered that, at my core, I’m an artist — a storyteller. It taught me how to discover inspiration all around me. It also taught me that I was passionate about telling stories that mattered; stories that made a positive difference in the lives of other people.

Was there one event in particular that ignited the fire to begin Goodnewspaper?

There wasn’t one event in particular — it was more like an unceasing fire of events that were happening around me last year.

Ever since I was a kid, I’ve always been an optimistic, happy-go-lucky guy. I grew up in a small town in Eastern Washington and just never experienced many tragedies or hardships. But in 2016, all of that changed.

In many ways, it was the worst year of my life. Politics divided my country and terrorism felt like a real threat more than ever. Retrospectively, I think I was truly waking up to the realities of the injustices in the world. I started paying attention to the systematic oppression of people of color. I paid attention to the all too frequent police shootings in the US. I became more aware of the hateful rhetoric online. And on a more personal level, I had a number of people in my life who were dealing with deep loss and mental health issues.

All of this started weighing on me until it officially broke me. I was tired of sitting still in all of this pain. I knew there was no way I could just forget about it and go back to the way my life was before. I knew I had to do something. And that’s where my passion for hopeful storytelling began. I started searching for stories of incredible heroes. I was needing hope and inspiration more than ever, and I wanted to be able to provide hope for others.

How long has this project been in the pipe?

The concept for creating a physical newspaper has been in motion for several months now, but my passion for seeking out and sharing hopeful stories began during the early days of the US election cycle. During this time, I was feeling overwhelmed with the amount of fear that was being presented in traditional media and the divisions being perpetuated online.

It was during this time that I started my podcast, Sounds Good with Branden Harvey, and a free weekly email newsletter filled with good news stories.

Do you take the photographs for each issue?

Definitely not all of the photographs, but some! I travel extensively for my storytelling work with non-profits and socially conscious brands and I’m constantly coming across stories of people doing good things in difficult situations. We’re still finalizing the layout for the first issue. We’re really looking forward to incorporating incredible, high-quality imagery from Stocksy to help us communicate stories that matter in a beautiful, meaningful, and authentic way.

How do you seek out inspiring stories to share? There must be so many.

We want to focus in on the topics that make people feel overwhelmed. For example, the global refugee crisis. Many people (me included) know that they want to do something to help but feel at a loss for where to start.

We want to highlight people that are taking action and leading well with these issues so that others can learn how to either follow in their footsteps or be inspired to find their own path to make a difference.

How do you resist the negativity in mainstream media while still being informed? Any tricks to share?

I think there are two ways that I do this:

  1.  I have intentionally decided when I consume news. I turn off notifications, I don’t leave the TV on, and I don’t scroll through Twitter all day. I make a point to decide on the times I will check out (reputable) news sources. And after I read the articles, I turn it off.
  2. I really try to focus on solutions. I spend time on researching which non-profits or individuals are helping with these issues. I then feel compelled to help out too.

Doing both of these has been a game changer in how I maintain a sense of optimism.

Can you share any particular positive trends or stories that have come through? Give us a little taste of Goodnewspaper hope!

On my podcast, I got to have an incredible conversation with photographer and activist, Devin Allen. Devin was the amateur photographer who captured the protests in his hometown of Baltimore, Maryland and ended up having one of his now-iconic photos placed on the cover of TIME. The TIME cover catapulted his photography career and led to some incredible opportunities. But at Devin’s core, he’s continued to care deeply about his community. He’s stayed put in Baltimore and is using his platform and influence to give kids in his community the opportunity to learn photography themselves. He’s raised funds to give away cameras, taught photography classes, and helped his students use photography as an activist tool and viable career.

We’re planning on highlighting Devin’s story in the Goodnewspaper and diving deeper into the impact he’s making on the kids in his community. He’s a perfect example of somebody using his unique platform, talents, and abilities to make a difference in a way only he can. That’s what we want the Goodnewspaper to inspire people to do: make a difference in a way that is completely unique to the reader.

Devin Allen and his TIME cover. Portrait by Adrien O. Walker.

And finally, how can we all support/subscribe to the Goodnewspaper? 

We are excited to announce that you can now pre-order the Goodnewspaper on our website!

The other thing that you can do is help us share Goodnewspaper and share this story. When you share, talk about why good news and taking action is important to you. The more people we can get to celebrate good news, the better we can make this paper and the more of a positive difference we can make in the world. Together.

 

Branden Harvey is a Nashville-based storyteller, working to create authentic images at home and around the world. See Branden’s photography collection here >>


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