Generative Journalism: Catalyzing Creative Possibilities vs. Reporting “Facts”

by Vins
Published: Last Updated on

Have you noticed that most “news” is about what we fear—natural disasters, human failures, fraud, theft, murder and war? The constant reporting of possible threats supports a worldview that is “mean and dangerous.” This fear-based perspective can be overwhelming, and it leaves out the vast amount of human behavior that is cooperative, caring and mutually supportive. Where’s the news highlighting human goodness, creativity, and possibility?

Generative Journalism (GJ) speaks to this crisis and promotes society’s common good. It promotes action through asking questions that seek the best possible outcome in any community situation. Axiom News, which coined the term, believes in positive storytelling as an enabler of human strengths and a catalyst for constructive change. It uses an approach called Appreciative Inquiry—a developmental search for the best in people, their organizations, and the world around them. It involves asking questions that strengthen a system’s capacity to explore and actualize positive potential.

GJ uses five narrative skills that help give birth to what is most alive and important in a community. It often begins with a provocative question. For example, “What if we could reawaken citizenship, right here in Peterborough (or name your own city), so that we actually feel like co-creators, restored to creative power in the neighborhoods and communities we live in?” This reporter’s question inspired members of Peterborough, Ontario to create “Citizenship Unleashed,” a group helping people to change the way they feel about their community and to get them acting on what matters. The new journalism is about generating creative possibilities instead of simply reporting selected “facts.” How might the new journalism help you rewrite your community’s story?


Holman, Peggy. “Experience Engagement, ”Journalism That Matters Conference, Oct. 1-4, 2015. and video highlights:

Michelle Strutzenberger. “Renewed Hope for Journalism Creates Shifts,” Axiom News, October 21, 2015.

Ben Wolfe. “Citizens Unleashed in Peterborough.” Axiom News, November 24, 2015,

Michelle Strutzenberger. “The Future is Already in the Room,” Axiom News, January 11, 2016.‘-future-already-room

Michelle Strutzenberger. “Restoring Democracy from the Neighborhood Out,” Axiom News, Feb. 18, 2016.

“Shifting to a Generative Conversation on Poverty,” Axiom News, March 22, 2016,

Chris Corrigan. “How Journalists Can Help Convene,” Axiom News, March 23, 2016.

Student Researcher: Brandy Miceli, San Francisco State University

Faculty Evaluator: Kenn Burrows, San Francisco State University