Because we could all use a little kindness.
It’s no secret that I’m obsessed with Instagram (the first step is admitting you have a problem, lol). I’ve met so many amazing and talented people through IG, and I wanted to share some of my favorite accounts with you all! I hope you enjoy these incredible individuals as much as I do, and as always, share with me what your favorite Instagram accounts are by dropping me a line at email@example.com.
Michelle Figueroa is on a mission. This journalist turned social media star is taking Instagram by storm with a simple yet powerful goal: She researches, sources, and posts good news. And only good news. We all know that inspirational stories only make up a small chunk of the vast 24-hour news cycle, so it’s refreshing to stumble upon a diverse community that celebrates positivity. If you’re mired in stress and crave a light at the end of the tunnel, Good News Movement is a healthy, calm space that’ll help you appreciate humanity again. Katie was curious about the movement, so she chatted with Figueroa about inspirational stories, celebrity followers, and teaching kindness to children.
Michelle, I’m such a fan of @goodnewsmovement. Can you walk us through what inspired you to create this account?
As a freelance reporter, I was tired of my good news stories getting overlooked. I was astounded that sometimes it wasn’t just one outlet, but multiple outlets that would turn down my frequent good-news pitches. So one day, in bed with an ear infection, I decided to put these beautiful stories’ fate into my own hands. I became my own news director and opened the floodgates for people to send in their good news. By doing this, I’ve been giving these stories their deserved amplification and spotlight — much to the delight of our 4.4 million good news-seeking followers. A win-win.
You created this account in 2018 and now have over 4 million followers — tell me more about this community you’ve created.
Good News Movement is living proof that people crave good news more than ever. It’s truly an international movement made up of people from all corners of the world who’ve decided not to subscribe to the doom and gloom. Instead, they hope to seek, be, and share the good news. I was asked once by Vogue how large my team is, and I answered, “My team is 4 million strong” because followers share their good news directly with me. The followers play a key role in the success and continued growth of my platform.
I know you have some pretty famous followers — like Prince Harry and Meghan Markle. Can you tell us about some celebs who follow your account? Is there a certain celebrity follower you’ve been starstruck by?
You! The truth is I don’t get as starstruck as I used to get when I was younger. OK, so maybe by Orlando Bloom a little bit — but more than starstruck, I think I was wowed by how down-to-Earth and humble he is. I didn’t expect Prince Harry and Meghan Markle to follow or post about Good News Movement. That was definitely a pleasant surprise for which I will forever be grateful.
Your background is in journalism: How did you decide to make the pivot from television reporting to online storytelling?
While I still do some TV reporting, I saw social media as such a powerful tool to reach people, since that’s where people spend so much of their time. I also like the fact that a story can have a much longer shelf life online. On TV, it’s on for two minutes — sometimes even one minute. Then it’s gone or resides somewhere on the web. On social media, if a story is good, it takes on a life of its own.
How do you find the good news stories you want to share with your community? Do you get a lot of submissions from followers, or go searching after stories yourself?
It’s a bit of a mix. Recently I went to film a story in Rhode Island about a surf therapy nonprofit called Gnome Surf. I love when I get to meet the people changing the world — nothing will ever beat real-life human interaction. But yes, followers send me stories about every five minutes or so. There’s never a shortage of good news! And finally, like any journalist, I follow breaking news and all wires.
Is there a particular person or story you’ve covered that’s really stuck with you? (There doesn’t have to be just one!)
Recently, I put out a call for my followers to send birthday cards to a boy with autism who — year after year — had no friends show up to his birthday party. I was blown away: Every single minute I would get a request from followers for his address so they could send a card. I spent five days copy and pasting his address and replying to all the requests. My biggest takeaway that I want everyone to know is that they are not alone: The world is, for the most part, kind and beautiful — and people are inherently good. If you reach your hand out, there will be thousands of hands to lift you up.
Do you have a favorite good news story after all these years?
There are so many. Each has a piece of my heart — Good News Movement is human too: We cry. A story I love is one I filmed myself about my neighbor, a Holocaust survivor named Michael, who was saved from being transported to Auschwitz because his mom made teddy bears. The Nazis wanted the bears for Christmas, so she told them if she and her son were sent to Auschwitz, they wouldn’t have bears for their kids for the holidays. My neighbor Michael still has the bear that saved him! I take him to the eye doctor once a month and update him on the comments. People have written him loving messages — he can’t believe it.
You recently wrote a children’s book! Tell us all about it.
I wrote the kids book A Good Thing Happened Today based on real-life good news stories I’ve featured on my Instagram page. The book centers around children doing good with large and small everyday acts. My hope is that it’s a reference book kids can look to for ideas they can replicate. Or they can be inspired by to do good in their own way.
It makes me happy to know that somewhere out there during nightly storytime, a child may be cradled by a loved one reinforcing the message of my book — that there’s a lot of good out there and they too can be the good news.
Lastly, I’m going on a Kindness Tour, taking a kindness curriculum to elementary schools and teaching them five simple ways to be kind and make the world a better place. I’ll read my book to them and teach them what every school should have: Lessons in kindness.