The Rise Of Positive Storytelling Publishers In The Digital Age, And Their Impact On Society

Positive storytelling publishers share how they are creating impact in the society with their stories and the road ahead

Have you ever thought you could eat the cutlery once you are done with your food? Apart from the joy of chewing the spoon, the business case for such an idea is immense. However, it took Narayana Peesapaty founder at Bakeys six years to create the eatable spoons that could be a big innovation in tackling plastic waste.

The vegan friendly spoons are made from rice, wheat and sorghum, an ancient grain originally from Africa. Sorghum was chosen as a primary ingredient for its tough quality (it doesn’t go soggy in liquids) and because it is suitable for cultivation in semi-arid areas, writes The Guardian.

Not just Guardian but almost every major daily – national and international have talked about the Bakeys story that has been making spoons in Hyderabad, India, since 2011, where it employs nine women. In addition to Narayana’s iron determination, a video from The Better India (embedded at the top) gave the center stage to the spoons that taste like crackers and come in three flavours – savoury (salt and cumin), sweet (sugar) and plain.

The video went viral on social media for its simplicity and uniqueness; it has fetched the publication more than 5 million views. Along with raking in a huge interest from Europe, Africa and USA, airline-catering companies are also keen about this. “Pre-orders of spoons worth INR 6 crores (USD 1 million) within a few days of the video going live,” writes Dhimant Parekh, Founder at TheBetterIndia (TBI).

This is one such example from the many positive stories that TBI has covered over the last few years. While it is a business but the larger goal for the eight-year-old Bengaluru based publication is to create impact in the society. Even the readers of TBI are engaging themselves to create a bigger impact in the society.

“One reader, after reading this story, decided to try it out in another city and saw resounding success. She is now more engaged with the NGO and working towards enabling special children to enjoy music. In another case, we had 8 of our readers opting for a 1-year rural India fellowship program after reading about others who’ve gone down that path earlier,” informs the TBI portal.

Today we don’t just have TBI digging out positive stories that are increasing belief in mankind and society. From traditional media sites to the new age publications, everyone wants to cover a positive story that has gone viral. There are also some new age startups such as The Logical Indian, The Happ Post along with ScoopWhoop, BuzzFeed India, Storypic, and others.

The Logical Indian (chose not to speak on this story) had created interesting stories under the name – One Minute Hero. The minute long video embedded below is about Neeraj Arya’s Kabir Cafe, that ensures St. Kabir’s verses are accessible and comprehensible through contemporary music to the rest of the world.

In fact earlier this year media specialists Sorbojeet Chatterjee and Pradyuman Maheshwari had launched an alternative news site called Happ Post, which is being positioned as a curator of positive news. An earlier press release issued in January, stated that there is a clear need-gap for a positive news product that provides a viable alternative to sensational headlines and screaming news anchors. (Happ Post declined to participate in this industry story with LI)

With readers spending more and more time on social networks (to be read as Facebook), the sudden rush of covering and sharing positive stories was a natural progression. However, Dhimant thinks that the audience was always there, it’s just that there hasn’t been enough positive news being catered to them. “By launching TBI, we filled the gap in the spectrum of news coverage that was accessible to our citizens.”

Positive stories or stories of inspiration are always good to read/view, at times when the world is getting destroyed minute by minute and piece by piece. But then today most publishers are covering the same positive story posing a challenge among publishers. To be blunt, it is quite rapidly going the way of breaking news, where almost every media covers the same story with no new angle.

Vignesh Vellore, Founder at The News Minute thinks the main reason is that the audience is getting younger, no one cares as to where the story comes from.

“If an Indian Express has first put it out, the same content is mirrored and published by a lot of other sites. For the new age reader it does not matter anymore as to who got it first but getting to know about it is what matters. Same story different publications and the content still remains viral via various channels. This trend will continue for now.”

The News Minute, which reports news from the five southern states of India, last year reported an inspiring story of a tea-shop couple who had traveled to 16 countries with one dream destination left. News Minute’s story went viral and their efforts made sure that the couple had a memorable trip to the US. Now Vijayan and his wife Mohana are planning to go to Russia. Here is a video of the inspiring couple directed by Hari.M.Mohana:

The inspiring story covered by The News Minute got everyone talking on social media and thereafter we saw every other publication covering it. “As a publisher even if someone puts out a good positive story and it is from the target areas we focus on i.e. southern states we go ahead and publish it as well. Difference is we ensure giving due credit to whoever it may be. Also we take the process of verification very seriously.”

He further adds that sometimes – positive stories published may not be all true and they have come across such stories, and even if other publishers put it out they do not. “Also we look at the timeline, sometimes positive stories which have happened years back are also published, we don’t do that as well. Unless there is an update to the event or story.”

With more positive stories publishers cropping up, the negative aspect of plagiarism is also on the rise. Dhimant agrees this as the challenge. “With the proliferation of many other sites there is a problem of plagiarism and we do see it as a challenge. Having said that, if one sticks to publishing great content consistently, one does see a steady readership growth. So in spite of the crowded market, there is a space for good quality journalism.”

One good thing that proliferation of positive news publishers has done, according to Dhimant, is that it fulfills the reason why they started TBI.

“With more sources, it starts changing people’s mindsets and in a way helps grow the readership for our content too. The classic – growing the entire pie – phrase is applicable here.”

Meanwhile brands have also noticed the growth of positive story publishers and the growing consumption by readers on social media. Mihir Karkare EVP at Mirum India informed that quite a few brands who want to associate with positive reads such as finance brands, are working with these publishers. For instance, very recently an investment firm wanted to engage with a positive story publishing site since it felt it had a connect with the platform. “These brands want to talk about positive offerings so such sites are good to advertise rather than other sites where your ad might appear with a story that might not fit with the brand ideology,” he shared.

With all these positives, one major challenge as Dhimant shares is ensuring you do good quality content at the right time and in the right format.“Consumer reading behaviors are changing almost every 6 months and as a publisher you need to be aware of what interests a reader at a particular time and ensure you adapt yourself and your business accordingly.”

This has been a common problem for most publishers across the globe. However with time spends increasing on social networks, especially on Facebook, the trend has shifted to sharing positive and highly emotional feel good content. With social networks now becoming publishers this is even more good news for positive story publishers.

“Publications which only thrive on positive content should not have any issues as of now. If you take the examples of The Logical Indian or a TBI they are all doing very well in the social media space especially Facebook which is primarily based on positive content.”