6 Apr 2020

Our media has the gift to accentuate the positive

Julien Cozens – Director at Spreckley

The press has always fascinated me – as a media student over thirty years ago, a morning radio DJ in Texas for a while in the late 80s, a local and trade reporter and over the last 30 years as a PR professional.

I truly believe we have the best media in the world and I appreciate that not everybody has the same opinion, but go to other countries and the BBC, in particular, is revered. Undoubtedly, however, our media still has the capacity to infuriate as well as delight and lift our spirits or dash them, generally in a couple of minutes!

Over the course of a week, I think that most of my news consumption is via radio… and Radio 5 Live with its mixture of news and sport has been my favourite outlet for many years.

Working from home over the last couple of weeks, however, means that I’ve listened to even more Radio 5 Live. I thought I’d miss the sports element, but I haven’t really, and the shift in their output has not just been interesting, but uplifting.

Yes, there are depressing pieces about the Coronavirus, but Radio 5 Live is trying to accentuate the positive, with uplifting stories of human kindness and endeavour, and for me it’s working.

The presenter who I believe is leading this charge is Nihal Arthanayake with his afternoon programme. He’s upbeat, amusing and kind but shows sympathy and humility and knows when he needs to be serious.

As part of his show he has had a regular “shout out” to key workers, from the NHS, through lorry drivers and supermarket workers to refuse collectors, with listeners calling in to express their admiration of, and gratitude to, these workers. I didn’t realise that people were leaving out bottles of beer in appreciation for what their refuse collectors were doing, but it’s a good idea and a wonderful example of human kindness!

Nihal, however, isn’t the only positive spark. Nicky Campbell and Emma Barnett – both who can be tough questioners – are showing great empathy, as well as knowledge, while Rachel Burden, who must be one of the hardest working presenters at the BBC, is being her usual calm, positive self.

I know that captivating news is generally “bad news” but when we defeat COVID-19 perhaps there will be a media shift, with some more obviously upbeat stories to give us balance.

In the meantime, Radio 5 Live’s coverage is making me feel more positive while still being informative. Thank you Nihal and Radio 5 Live.