‘Good News’ Websites Aren’t Hard-Hugging Enough


From the “They Already have That” files:

As my friends can attest, I read the New York Times and regularly get bummed out.  I don’t think the Times means to do this, as they do not seem to subscribe to the FoxNews trademarked Scare Readers Shitless School Of Journalism.  But there surely does seem to be a lot going wrong with the world these days.

I wonder how much of this bad news is spin, and how much is legitimately going wrong.  So I recently struck on the idea (one I’m in no position to act upon) to start a Good News news site.  One that would take as its starting point the theoretical “neutral news” of the world, and then err on the side of optimism and progress.  The anti-Fox News, I guess.

Turns out, there are many of these sites.  I googled ‘Good News’ and looked at the top results.  All of them have similar goals: to remind us that there is good news out there; to provide some daily optimism; to balance out the mainstream media’s constant fear-danger-depression angle.  However, after a short examination, their “hard hugging” journalism leaves something to be desired.

Google Search Result #1: Good News Network

goodnewsnetwork.org

This is the first search result.  It aims to be a professional news outlet devoted to positive news, but you need to pay to read the content.  Plus, the leading headlines from this random Monday morning site visit seem to tilt towards small-town good news, not an overarching view of the nation at large.

Google Search Result #2: Happy News

This site is less newspaper-news-oriented, with prominent space devoted to videos and for-sale products aimed at positive living.  The site also posts only one “Top Story” at a time and you have to dig to find other stories, which are as likely to be small-towny as the one I found this morning.

Google Search Result #3:  Good News Daily

goodnewsdaily.com

This site has more of the international news I want to see, as it seems to post articles from other news sources.  The layout is amateur, however, and it also encourages reader-submitted articles, which does not generate the air of professional journalism I’m looking for.

Google Search Results #4 and 5: Christian “Good News” sites.

Google Search Result #6: Good News Now (GNN)

The site tabs make it clear this site isn’t going for hard-hitting investigative journalism, but rather the news equivalent of Daily Puppy.

Conclusion:

The website I want doesn’t seem to be out there (at least not easily found).  Outlets like Fox have become very skilled in manipulating the world’s complexity to present a preordained perspective.  Objective journalism is rather impossible, since what a newspaper prints or does not print is, in itself, a subjective decision.  So I’d like to see a website that shamelessly spins national and international news towards an optimistic viewpoint.  This site would avoid fluff like, “Dog Saves Cat From Flood,” or “Cheerleading Squad Saves Teachers’ Pensions,” which seems to be popular with the good news sites I visited.  Tell me about Afghanistan, global warming and Capitol Hill.  If leading news outlets can depict Obama as a secret Muslim, surely a professionally-staffed news site could tell me something positive about Iraq.  And no, I don’t mean “Sufi Dog Saves Shia Cat From Flood.”

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5 thoughts on “‘Good News’ Websites Aren’t Hard-Hugging Enough

  1. Jasper

    Storytellers For Good is obviously in the ‘Good News’ business and we are always looking for “Good News’ sites where we can post our stories. Having done a similar search myself, I have to say I know exactly what you mean. You make an interesting point in terms of both the ‘hard-hugging’ journalism and the amount of ‘fluff that appears on these sites, and I have used your post as a basis for a discussion on our Facebook page – http://www.facebook.com/pages/Storytellers-For-Good/250745016591?v=app_2373072738#!/topic.php?uid=250745016591&topic=15761
    It will be interesting to get some reaction from our followers and see what exactly they are looking for in a ‘Good News’ site – for we could surely use some more of them …

    Jasper Blake
    Social Media Manager
    Storytellers For Good

    Reply
    1. nmirra Post author

      Thanks for responding, Jasper, and for linking my post to your facebook stie. I visited the Storytellers for Good site, and the mission statement from Cara there is certainly an inspiring one. For me, the ‘inspirational story’ niche you are looking to fill is different than the ‘good news’ niche I’d like to find.

      A friend pointed out that one person’s good news may be another person’s bad news. A gay rights bill being passed, for example. Perhaps this is why the sites I found seem to lean towards the local news “feel good story” school of content. In the effort to find something that EVERYBODY will like, you end up with puppies and brave school children. Good stories for sure, but not ones that give you a sense of the world at large.

      A news outlet that does not apologize for its perspective (I’d say the NYT and FoxNews do not apologize for their perspectives, either) but pushes the positive side of current events would get my pageviews.

      Reply
  2. Jasper

    I agree – you are never going to be able to please everyone and therefore a site with an unapologetic perspective would be the only option. Huffington Post has a lot of the elements you are looking for, but I can’t see FoxNews ever taking a positive approach to anything – but then they are not really a news organization.

    I agree that Cara’s mission is a different one to what you are talking about in terms of ‘Good News,’ but it was a very similar desire for something more positive from the mainstream media that led to her quitting her TV-news-reporter career to set up Storytellers For Good – and why your post resonated with me. It is certainly a question that more people seem to be asking, and it would be interesting to find out how much demand there would be for such a site.

    Reply
    1. nmirra Post author

      Perhaps a news outlet with the resources could start a “Looking Up” section or Article Of The Day. Therein it would publish a news article slanted towards the bright side of the topic. There are columnists who do this sort of thing, but their columns are closer to editorials than ‘news pieces.’ Say, one article per day in the front section of the paper (or in the ‘national’ section of the website), distinguished from the rest only by some heading or icon. The key would be to make sure it was not placed in the ‘entertainment’ section or in some other way marginalized as less than real news. Reader response would be a good indicator of the demand for the idea.

      Reply
  3. Jasper

    Hey Nicholas,
    Just found this today – The Good New Broadcast – http://www.goodnewsbroadcast.com/
    Its mission, it states, is “to find, receive, create and broadcast to the world, life-affirming, thought-provoking, educational news, entertainment and events; content that is non-violent, non-sectarian, non-political. We elicit the positive side of news from the world’s public, media and journalists in order to generate compelling domestic and international stories”.
    It sounds like it is on the sort of track you were talking about … might be worth a review?

    Reply

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