MOLLY SCHOEMANN: I like the idea of a Good News section in the newspaper. I feel like that’s what People Magazine kind of used to be about? Inspiring stories about people who weren’t famous? But it’s turned into 10% that, and 90% celebrity wedding photos and Teen Mom scoops.
It would be especially helpful to be able to distract yourself with actual news stories that were happy when you were having a bad day—instead of distracting yourself with videos of kittens riding Roombas, as I tend to do now when I’m having a bad day. At least an actual Good News section would actually have some News in it. So you could start a conversation with, “Hey, did you hear about how in Connecticut a fire-fighter saved a bunch of puppies from a burning building?” rather than, “Hey, did you hear about that kitten riding that Roomba? No, a different one.”
I think the beast that really needs to be starved is the beast of the 24 hour news cycle.
I know I’ve said this before, but I’d really rather cable news people sat around behind their desks playing Words with Friends when there was nothing going on in the news.
ZOË RICE: My relationship with the news changed ten years ago, in the aftermath of September 11th. A downtown New Yorker in the thick of it all, I needed a balanced portrait of what was happening in my backyard and an objective viewpoint of world goings-on. Instead, I got the kind of scare-mongering that promoted ratings. By the time “It’s Anthrax!!!” became a daily warning from my local news, I wiped my hands of it and decided that from now on I’d be combing headlines with the same eye I used to evaluate entertainment – no mind-numbing Housewives or Jersey Shoreites. And no alarmist exaggerating from my formerly trusted news sources.
Lately I’ve been inching back, in part toward the Huffington Post. I’ve often wondered, Why can’t there be a Good News Network? The same news as elsewhere, but highlighting the positive instead of the dire negatives. Troubled economy? Sure, but look how microfinance loans are helping to lift up developing nations. Disaster at sea? But look how these survivors were rescued. A place of news respite, where one can take a breath when the outlook turns bleak. I’m glad that the Huffington Post has now decided to offer just that with their Good News section. I do think the featured stories will veer toward “personal interest,” or soft news, and though I love videos of cute animals as much as the next person, I hope HuffPo will realize that the potential of Good News branches far beyond uplifting family reunions and life-saving puppies.
Slant, bias, opinion. All these words have been associated with news now more than ever. I hope Good News can offer an antitoxin to all the vitriol floating around the 24-hour Newsiverse. My wish is that this new section won’t shy away from hard news global and domestic. And it needn’t hide those facts that may be troubling – just find the positive slant or the opinion with a voice of reason. Instead of “It’s Anthrax!!!” let’s see “Ten Reasons Why it’s Probably Not Anthrax.”
As the world goes to Hell in a handbasket, let’s take a look at the handbasket. Perhaps it’s crafted by the finest artisans and lined with soft down. Perhaps Good News will tell us the journey won’t be so terrible after all.