“If it bleeds, it leads” is a common refrain in journalism.
One journalist, though, became passionate about sharing inspiring stories about how people are making a difference. And that reporter, Christopher Dawson, recently was presented with InterAction’s award for Excellence in International Reporting.
During a brief interview with me at InterAction’s 2013 conference, which gathered hundreds of organizations working in developing countries, Dawson talked about empowering journalism.
“Most news seems to be about how badly we can treat each other and about the failings of man,” he said. “To me, that was depressing.”
Fortunately, the company for which he worked – CNN – wanted to air more inspiring stories. The stories also proved popular with advertisers, which don’t want to connect with negative stories, Dawson said. “A sponsored series worked because it’s hopeful and newsworthy.”
Dawson became the lead producer for CNN’s Impact Your World in 2007. Throughout the next four years, he built the project into an award-winning cross-platform initiative for CNN, CNN International, HLN, CNN.com, CNN Mobile and CNN Radio. Impact Your World shares stories of great need and the inspiring examples of charities and volunteers making a difference.
He receives pitches from viewers about stories that inspire and encourage them. Dawson also looks carefully at the problems posed by disasters. “When reporting on a disaster, it’s important to go to the next step,” he said. “You want to find out who is responding and who is restoring the balance.”
Dawson, who also won the ShelterBox Global Media Award in 2011, values the impact of social media on the stories, too. Social media allows for actionable steps that viewers can take. “They are so hungry to participate in the good,” Dawson said. “The story continues beyond our broadcast.”
As for the recognition of his work, Dawson said, “My hope with such an award is that it would encourage more journalists to share these stories to empower and inspire their audiences.”