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Greater Victoria, BC News


Date ArticleType
6/1/2016 Published Article
Good News Doesn’t Have to be No News

Victoria Mayor Lisa Helps asked why Victorians have such a focus on the negative at the annual general meeting of the Greater Victoria Chamber of Commerce on May 10. She asked the sold-out crowd of business owners and leaders whether it’s human nature or if it’s in our DNA to be so.

Her presentation, “How Amplifying the Negative Hurts Us All … and What We Can Do About It” had a point - amplifying the negative drives away business and investment. Reduces voters’ confidence in government. Creates misinformation and confusion.

The question is, are the stories out there negative? We see media coverage on Tent City, sewage treatment, Biketoria, and the - suddenly disputed - partial cloverleaf design for the Mackenzie Interchange. These stories all contain a tried and true element of any good story: conflict. Are we to fault local media for following the recipe?

Our backyard patio conversations tend to also have conflict as the main theme. We can have lively debates about regional service delivery, local governance, the Colwood Crawl. We moan ad nauseam about the cost of living. Trying to engage our guests on municipal good news like the City’s Business Hub, the construction boom, or any of the other initiatives benefiting our economy will likely result in an awkward silence, if not an early goodnight.

Simply, it is human nature that drives the composition of an interesting story – and we love conflict.

Mayor Helps asked us all to help change the tone from negative to positive. But without conflict, how do we tell interesting stories about Greater Victoria as an incredible place to work and play? How can we shape our collective story to have that “positive” resonance?

The good news – no pun intended – is there are more elements to a good story than just conflict – namely challenge, relevancy, impact, and novelty. We have all of that in droves. We have talented people and organizations rising to the challenge, working to improve our economy, our communities, our way of life. We have stories about our innovation, stories that involve great people doing unique things within and for our region.

Major media outlets such as the Toronto Star, Washington Post, New York Times and even Vogue have found a way to make our good news interesting. So then should we.


Peggy Kulmala is the Greater Victoria Chamber of Commerce’s manager of policy and public affairs.

Published June 2016 Business Examiner


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