In December, a subscriber read in The Inquirer how a growing number of teenagers are consumed with anxiety over the state of the world. Alarmed, she reached out to our executive editor, Stan Wischnowski, with a request.
“Is it possible for you to consider publishing only good news for one day?” the woman wrote. “I have long wondered how that would impact our city. I know mayhem sells, but I’ll bet one day of good news, happy stories, kindnesses done, would lift the spirits. Who knows? Other papers might copy the Inquirer.”
I have fantastic news for that reader and anyone else exhausted by the daily drumbeat of tough news that dominates our headlines and social-media feeds.
On April 7, The Inquirer will launch The UpSide, a new Sunday section that will celebrate the best of us – and the best in us.
Did you let out a sigh of relief, reading that? So has just about everyone I’ve told about The UpSide.
In print and online, The UpSide will present beautifully written and produced stories that inspire. Forge connection. Lead to solutions. Fire the imagination. Touch hearts. Expand on the common good. And, most important, offer hope by reminding us of the good in the world and ways to make it better.
I’m thrilled to announce that I’ll be guiding The UpSide in my new role as its editor, with help from deputy managing editor Michelle Bjork. For content, we’ll rely on our superb newsroom of journalists -- print and digital reporters, producers, photographers, designers, and editors who share a deep commitment to telling the region’s stories with thoroughness born of hundreds of years of collective experience.
Among those you’ll meet in the first issues of The UpSide will be Page Talbott and Jim Gould of Bala Cynwyd, volunteers with Hosts for Hospitals, who have opened their hearts and home for over a year to a young family from North Carolina whose critically ill toddler is receiving long-term care at CHOP.
You’ll read about the devoted volunteers at Welcoming the Stranger, a Bucks County nonprofit that works on a shoestring to offer free English-language classes and community support to immigrants from dozens of countries.
You’ll love our story of a former corrections officer and onetime South Jersey arm-wrestling champ named Steve “The Animal” Walker, who donates his fancy trophies and medals to the Special Olympics – so that the organization can repurpose Walker’s awards for its winning competitors.
And you’ll feel hometown pride in Philly native and U.S. Army Lt. Col. Lynn Ray, who is about to be promoted to a full colonel. She says her extraordinary military career would not have been possible without the self-confidence she developed at Girls High, whose leadership ignited her dreams and informed her character.
I cannot wait for you to read these tales as well as dozens more that are in production right now. Because we are long overdue for stories that recognize that the mystery of the human condition is that it is complicated -- characterized by great love, deep sorrow, and, in between, moments of transcendent grace, goodness, bravery, generosity, humor, and kindness.
The Inquirer is not alone in recognizing how badly readers are hungering for more than the important journalism that rights wrongs and shines light in dark corners.
In Minneapolis, the Star Tribune delights readers with Inspired, a weekly section focused on stories of goodness, hope, and solutions. In D.C., the Washington Post’s Optimist does the same, as does the New York Times in The Week in Good News, a roundup of “happiness."
They don’t do it alone. To tell the breadth of tales that inspire and motivate the public, they rely on reader input to tell the stories that simply must be shared.
The same will go for The UpSide. We will need you, our readers, to tell us about the people whose lives, good deeds, or ideas impact your community for the better, inspire you to take action, and make you feel grateful, joyful, hopeful, or connected.
So please reach out to us at UpSide@Phillynews.com. Because we’re in this world together, we need one another, and we’re better for it. We hope The UpSide will remind us why.