Positive News was established in 1993 with an aim to report on inspirational issues and examine society’s challenges through a lens of progress and possibility. Originally printed as a newspaper, it was distributed for free and by volunteers. Now, it’s yet another example of an editorial venture that has decided to create its own independent magazine: it’s moved away from classic newsprint to a glossy, thick, paper-y format that looks at home alongside titles like Delayed Gratification, GOOD, and Makeshift.
The change, which was initially funded by a recent crowdfunding campaign, makes sense considering the publication’s raison d’être. The disposable nature of a newspaper format didn’t especially reflect the point of view of the journalism and its emphasis on slowness and craft.
“Newspaper is more throwaway,” agrees editor Sean Dagan Wood. “And it’s less about how something is presented. We wanted to do justice to our journalism and vision of our organization, and to create something with content that’s got deeper value.” Medium and message now cohere.
Inspired by titles like Delayed Gratification, but also more lifestyle-focused publications such as Sidetracked, the Positive News team wanted to create something that combined the quality of journalism found in current affairs magazines and broadsheets such as The Guardian, with same quality of design and packaging found in independents.
“We decided to work with Studio Blackburn on the design because they understood the values at the heart of Positive News, and they saw how to turn them most clearly into a visual identity,” says Wood. The logotype and brand had to embody positive values and had to hint to their focus on the future. The arrow shape within the capital P, which suggests moving forward with purpose, was one of the studio’s responses. Its idea was to also give the reader a sense of a light being switched on, hence the two table lamp symbols for the logo.
The magazine marks the beginning of a new business model for the company, too. To complement the new quarterly publication, Positive News is also focusing attention online, and are currently applying for funding to develop the new site. “As we’re co-op owned, we want to create new ways to engage our readers online,” says Wood, hinting at the possibility of a platform that grants its community influence over content while still protecting the expertise of the editorial team.
“We’ve always wanted to break down assumptions about what news should be and what it should look like,” Wood explains, asserting that this new move into magazine making is another way to question and reassess the status quo of news reporting. “With all the changes that have happened in journalism, we want to ask, ‘What is the point of it?’ We want to come back to purpose, to create something that inspires and empowers.”