Everyday Heroes bringing positivity to news media

Guy Windsor talks about using practice to change our behaviors

In an ever increasingly interconnected world, we collect and share information about what is happening literally anywhere in the world immediately. Unfortunately, positivity doesn’t sell, so news media organizations and newsrooms around the globe have relied on negative news to sell advertisers and papers. And while print news has managed to stay competitive with digital broadcast, overall the industry revenues and circulation for these news organizations have fallen, revealed an analysis by the Pew Research Center.

In the past, before the Internet and social media, there were limits as to how often you could reliably report the news. There was time for thoughtful and purposeful news gathering and reporting. But with the advent of the Internet and social media, news reporting and journalism have become an on-demand, and up to the minute industry where information comes in, gets analyzed and regurgitated as quickly as can be done. There are countless news and media outlets all discussing the same stories, from various perspectives for particular audiences.

Break time at the Hero Roundtable

Beginning in the 1960s, news media outlets were being bought out by larger conglomerates, concentrating and guiding the news narrative, and at that same time, television networks believed that news was a public service, and not something subject to generate income for a station. This comes from an article on Macalester University’s website. It goes on to state that the beginning of the twenty-four-hour news cycle came with cable television. Cable news shortened the time to prepare, fact-check, edit and present news to viewers. This trend continued for several decades, resulting in inaccurate, rushed, and incomplete stories.

Fast forward to the present, and currently, 90% of media corporations are owned by just six companies. This kind of operation does not provide viewers with a fair or balanced perspective.

Thirty years ago, fifty or so corporations, held 90% of media companies. This comes from the Morris Creative Group. As an example, NBC is wholly owned by Comcast Inc. This happened in 2013. In April 2018 there was a viral video that showcased just how one media corporation can influence dozens if not hundreds of stations across the country. In the video, there are anchors from many different news stations all reading the same message about being independent and truthful. The compilation demonstrates the lack of original programming and by extension the methods, and types of news that media corporations will promote.

2018 Hero Roundtables speakers

In fact, in a recent article in the Guardian, there are negative consequences to over-reporting negative news. Those who heavily watch news can get a distorted picture of the world and become miscalibrated. These individuals tend to worry more about crime and overinflate the consequences of a story to the point of delusion. The negative news cycles can also increase the chances of depression and anxiety and in some cases lead to isolation from society due to unwarranted fears that originate from a negative news cycle.

There is a need for positive news, and stories where people are helping one another. If the negative press can induce adverse societal reactions, then positive news, stories that reflect the compassionate, kind, and outgoing nature of people, can serve to strengthen and reinforce feelings of community, and connectedness.

Using natural disasters as an example that can translate to any part of the world, in which anyone can be affected and has been on the rise in recent years.  In the last twenty years, there have been over 400 natural disasters in North America alone, reported the Economist in a 2017 article.

Guy Windsor and Kevin Rush practice blocking sword strikes

When it comes to disasters, it is not a matter of if, but when the next disaster strikes. And the first thing that will happen is all first responders will become incredibly busy very quickly. There are rules and processes for these specialized and trained individuals to be deployed during a disaster. But, who will step in and fill the void of helping those in need? It’s everyday heroes. These individuals will step into harm’s way, come to the aid of others, even though they have also suffered. These stories appear for one or two days after a disaster, but then quickly fade into the din of other sensational news in the constant cycle of communication and information dissemination.

According to the Federal Bureau of Investigation, FBI the ratio of Full-time police to citizens is 3.4 for every one-thousand people. There will never be enough emergency responders for any large-scale natural disaster. According to the UNISDR United Nations Office for Disaster Risk Reduction, in the last ten years, the negative impact of natural disasters in the world has amounted to over 1.4 trillion dollars, 1.7 billion people affected, and almost one million people have been killed.

During a crisis event, like a hurricane, or an earthquake, these trained individuals are quickly overwhelmed by the situation. Take Hurricane Katrina hit in 2005, or the Gulf and Caribbean hurricanes of 2017. These events were massive, impacted millions of lives, and cost billions of dollars in damages. There were also stories about how overwhelmed first responders were during the Houston hurricanes of 2017. Some waited for days before help could arrive and assist in Houston. In response to the massive need, many individuals took it upon themselves to assist others who were in need. This is the essence of heroism. They made a conscious choice to help others.

police data

There were stories of “everyday heroes” during the initial stages and just after those events. But in cases like Puerto Rico, where even after a year later, there are places where little to no recovery has been able to take place, it has been these everyday heroes who have been helping with the needs of those in their communities. But we stopped hearing about the aftermath of Puerto Rico just a few weeks after the storms.

There are thousands of stories of people helping their neighbors (Curry R.M. 2018), stories that can empower others to become heroes, to take a more active role in their communities, and help others who need that help. And it is also essential to both record and shares these stories, to reinforce the positive events happening all over the world. Stories like these can offer inspiration, and courage to others to contribute, to take part in being a voice for those who cannot speak for themselves.

Intermission during Hero Roundtable

Becoming a hero is not something to be taken lightly though, even science has begun to take a look at the phenomenon of heroism. An emerging social science looking at the mental and physical qualities displayed by heroes from all walks of life is starting to gain traction among academic institutions (Efthimiou, O., & Allison, S. T. 2018).

And some individuals have taken it upon themselves to teach others about what it means to be a hero, what traits, characteristics and behaviors heroes embody and how to develop them yourself. One such group is the Hero Roundtable. Started by Matt Langdon, this is a bi-annual conference that gathers together speakers on the various facets of heroism, and those interested in building those kinds of skills (Franco, Z. E., Allison, S. T., Kinsella, E. L., Kohen, A., Langdon, M., & Zimbardo, P. G. 2018).

They gather and share stories, strategies, and support for those interested in ending what has been called “The Bystander Effect.” Psychology Today defines it as, “The bystander effect occurs when the presence of others discourages an individual from intervening in an emergency situation. Social psychologists Bibb Latané and John Darley popularized the concept following the infamous 1964 Kitty Genovese murder in New York City. As Genovese was stabbed to death outside her apartment, neighbors failed to step in to assist or call the police.”

The group believes that that the traits and skills it takes to be a hero can be taught, and to that end, they bring together speakers from many backgrounds and disciplines to share what they know about what it takes to be a hero and how anyone who is willing can also be a hero.

In a recent interview with Kevin Rush, who is a motivational speaker, he focuses on the use of role-playing games to teach everyday hero skills.  According to Kevin, “to be an “everyday hero” the first thing you need to train is empathy. It is easy to step back and not engage when you think the problem is only yours.  When you have the empathy, to understand that the problem affects many people. And even if the problem does not directly affect you, having empathy can help someone move to action and help another.”



Everyday hero stories can be a way to demonstrate there is a place for positive, uplifting stories that can offer readers at the very least a break from all the bad news, or at the most offer them a way to become more involved in their communities through conscious, direct and supported growth.

There is a need for more heroes, there will always be a need for those who are willing to help others, when times get hard, or when disaster strikes. You cannot count on first responders when a significant event happens, you might be the hundredth caller to your police station, you might not be reached for days. But imagine if someone came to your side when an emergency stuck and was able to help you when you needed it most.

And if we need heroes, we will also need a way to let others know, it is ok to reach out and help someone. The need for positive news to combat the tide of negative news is overwhelming. Compelling, inspiring and local stories about people helping others, when they can, where they can.

A curated list of positive social media content can be found here



Curry, R. M. (2018). Achilles and the Astronaut: What Heroism Humanities Can Teach Heroism Science. Journal of Humanistic Psychology, 58(5), 571–584. https://doi-org.oclc.fullsail.edu/10.1177/0022167817697797

Jones, P. (2018). Mindfulness-Based Heroism: Creating Enlightened Heroes. Journal of Humanistic Psychology, 58(5), 501–524. https://doi-org.oclc.fullsail.edu/10.1177/0022167817711303

Friedman, H. L. (2018). Everyday Heroism in Practicing Psychology. Journal of Humanistic Psychology, 58(4), 397–414. https://doi-org.oclc.fullsail.edu/10.1177/0022167817696843

Efthimiou, O., & Allison, S. T. (2018). Heroism Science: Frameworks for an Emerging Field. Journal of  Humanistic Psychology, 58(5), 556–570. https://doi-org.oclc.fullsail.edu/10.1177/0022167817708063

Franco, Z. E., Allison, S. T., Kinsella, E. L., Kohen, A., Langdon, M., & Zimbardo, P. G. (2018). Heroism Research: A Review of Theories, Methods, Challenges, and Trends. Journal of Humanistic Psychology, 58(4), 382–396. https://doi-org.oclc.fullsail.edu/10.1177/0022167816681232

Franco, Z. E., & Efthimiou, O. (2018). Heroism and the Human Experience: Foreword to the Special Issue. Journal of Humanistic Psychology, 58(4), 371–381. https://doi-org.oclc.fullsail.edu/10.1177/0022167818772201

ZIMBARDO, P. G. (2017). From the Study of Evil to Promoting Heroism. Ceskoslovenska Psychologie, 61(1), 90–96. Retrieved from http://search.ebscohost.com.oclc.fullsail.edu:81/login.aspx?direct=true&db=a9h&AN=122366233&site=ehost-live