Over the past week, we’ve come across some interesting stories about how the media can be a force for good. We define “media” broadly at ivoh — to include journalism, photography, documentary film, gaming, and advertising. We’ve curated five of the best articles we came across:


ivoh was featured this week in a New England Newspaper & Press Association story about Restorative Narratives. The article includes interviews with The Newtown Bee’s Curtiss Clark, The Boston Globe’s Jenna Russell, and ivoh’s Mallary Tenore. “Restorative narratives focus on the entire journey that a person or community undergoes in the wake of a disaster, rather than centering news coverage solely on ‘tragedy, despair, and loss,'” Tenore said. “Many times you hear the ‘what happened’ stories and the first-anniversary stories, but you don’t see as many stories follow the journey, that murky journey of resilience, renewal, and recovery.”


While this article doesn’t focus on the media, it does relate to ivoh’s work around Restorative Narrative and the idea that there are stories to be told about the beauty and resilience that can stem from brokenness and tragedy. So often, we hear about post-traumatic stress. This Oprah Magazine article focuses on what psychologists call post-traumatic growth (PTG). “After trauma, many people go through a phase of wallowing or obsessing — and some get stuck there or, just as stunting, avoid thinking about their pain at all,” the article states. “Those who grow often have a mind-set that psychologist David Feldman, PhD, co-author of Supersurvivors: The Surprising Link Between Suffering and Success, calls grounded hope. ‘Trauma survivors who experience PTG acknowledge their own sadness, suffering, anger and grief, and are realistic about what happened to them,’ says Feldman. ‘But in the midst of their pain, they’re able to ask: ‘Given where I am in my life, how can I build the best future possible?'”


This article features the findings of Columbia Journalism Review’s study on how print and online reading affect people’s levels of empathy and emotional engagement. “Our increasing intimacy with screens could have far-reaching implications for the way we read, understand, and remember written texts, some experts have suggested. It might even affect the way stories can move us to feel empathy for their protagonists and other characters, because empathy takes time and focus to develop. It’s a scenario with potentially significant consequences for journalism, which so often relies on readers’ empathy as a vehicle for generating social awareness and change, as CJR reported in the first half of this research project about empathy and journalism,” writes Lene Bech Sillesen, who spoke about this topic during our annual media summit. “But when our study tested that hypothesis, the results did not support it. So have we proven that there are no differences at all between reading in print and on screens? Hardly, but the study results do illuminate bigger questions about how we interact with our digital devices: the real differences between paper and screens likely lie in the cultures we have built around them.”


This article features one of the many new studies showing the positive side effects of gaming. The study found that playing Tetris in the aftermath of a traumatic event can create what scientists call a “cognitive blockade.” “So what is it about Tetris that makes it so powerful in reshaping these kinds of memories? [Researcher Emily Holmes] believes it’s the visual aspects of the game that cause people to displace their prior memories,” Fast Company reports. “Anyone who’s watched a particularly gruesome horror film knows it’s visual images which stick with you the most. For Holmes’s trauma victims, revisiting the trauma-inducing images placed them into a mental state where their memories were more ‘plastic,’ meaning they could be molded and altered. Then, by playing Tetris — which requires paying attention to shapes and spacial mechanics — their brains were diverted as they used their visual processing to win the game instead of focusing on the trauma. This created a “cognitive blockade,” reducing the power of traumatic memories.”

This article looks at how social media — and Facebook in particular — has become an important outlet for news and creative expression in Afghanistan, particularly among women. The Independent reports: “Afghanistan’s adoption of Facebook is very recent and — for those who have taken to it — very comprehensive: the site is used for entertainment, news and as a substitute for emailing and texting by a growing group of mainly urban young people.”


(Thanks to ivoh community member Erin Shaw Street for sharing two of these articles with us! If you come across articles that you think would interest ivoh.org readers, please email them to info@ivoh.org)