Monday, January 05, 2015

Looking for good news

When I’ve talked before about good news, it’s often been about the finding good news part of a negative story, or even good news that doesn’t get reported. Today I thought I’d see what would happen if I Googled “good news” and the result is above.

To be honest, I thought the top hits would be Christian sites, so I was kind of pleased when they weren’t. On the other hand, Google knows what I tend to search for, so my experience is perhaps not indicative.

Still, I had a look at the four top hits, and here they are:

Good News Network: The site was founded in 1997 by Geri Weis-Corbley as “an antidote to the barrage of negativity experienced in the mainstream media”. Many of the values expressed on the “About Us” page are fairly progressive (in the non-political sense) because it's focused on optimism. They urge people to take in negative news, too, because it’s important to be informed citizens.

Good News – Huffington Post: People seem to love or hate Huffington Post—or sometimes it’s “and”. Still, they’re a big site, though chiefly a “news aggregator”. That means they bring together things posted to sites all over the web. As such, it can be a good “one-stop-shop” for a quick fix of good news.

Sunny Skyz: The “About” page says “Sunny Skyz was launched in January of 2012 in order to promote positive stories and upbeat media.” Unlike Good News Network, Sunny Skyz’s founder, Christopher Filippou, doesn’t follow mainstream news: “If you ask me, I think you're crazy for listening to that garbage.” Not everything I saw on my visit was necessarily “good news” in the way that I mean the term, but some readers might find the items inspiring in some way.

Daily Good – News That Inspires: This is a volunteer-run site that began in 1998 when a student began sending daily inspirational quotes to six of his university classmates. Daily and weekly newsletters are still a main feature. As the subtitle suggests, the emphasis is on things that inspire, which isn’t a bad thing, just not, strictly speaking, a “good news” site. In that sense, it’s a bit like Sunny Skyz, but without dismissing mainstream news.

Those are just the first four sites that popped up when I Googled “good news”. Others may get different results, and mine might be different at another time. Such is the way with Internet searches. I’m also neither endorsing nor dismissing these sites—I’m merely listing them and what I thought when I visited them

However, I have a caution: Good news sites (these or others) can sometimes be a good antidote on those days where the news is filled with awful things, but they are NOT a substitute for mainstream news. I agree with Geri Weis-Corbley about the importance of being an informed citizen, so it concerns me that Christopher Filippou thinks that mainstream news is “garbage”.

An informed citizen is no use to anyone, though, if they're too discouraged to act, so that’s where good news sites—particularly those that specialise in inspiration—can be the most useful. From time to time we all need to hear something positive, or we need our faith in humanity restored, or maybe we just need a little encouragement to do something in our lives, like lose weight or even just get better organised. I’ve long turned to such sites for those sorts of things, but I never made the connection with “good news” before.

Finding the good aspect of an otherwise negative news story also carries a caution: We can end up spinning it as surely as those who focus only on the bad aspects, and, indeed, as politicians always spin news that doesn’t reflect favourably on them or their party by highlighting only the positive aspects.

We also don’t want to become Pollyanaish, ignoring sometimes harsh and painful aspects of real life in favour of news that only makes us feel good. We need the bitter with the sweet, I think, in order to be able to appreciate them both, yes, but also to be truly alive—present in the moment.

So, that’s a little of what I found when I went looking for “good news”, and what I thought of it all. The main lesson is that good news is always out there and it’s not hard to find. We just need to be wise enough to use it as an antidote to and inspiration for real life, and not as a replacement.


Roger Green said...

If you go too far, I'll call you Pollyarthur!

Arthur (AmeriNZ) said...

I've been called far worse...