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    Good News as a Business Model?

    by Paul Lamb
    March 22, 2009

    In his “Are We Home Alone?” OpEd today New York Times columnist Thomas Friedman says “I’ve never talked to more people in one week who told me, “You know, I listen to the news, and I get really depressed.” I feel the same way.

    It’s something I’ve wondered about for years…why people are willing to accept a constant barrage of bad news? And not just recent Chicken Little reporting about the economic meltdown, but the endless reports on murders, shootings, natural disasters, bombings, etc. Not that we should ignore the real state of affairs in the world, but if you read any newspaper or watch the nightly news it would appear that we live primarily in a chaotic and violent universe with little to be hopeful about. And there is a fundamental (some would argue unhealthy) bias in presenting a primarily “we are doomed” worldview.

    So maybe it’s time for some good news? Literally, media outlets specializing in hope and inspiration as a mainstay. Or a section of the regular news called “the good news”. I know you probably won’t sell as many newspapers by replacing a headline like “Bomb blast in Mosul kills 50” with “Teacher inspires 3rd Grade class to help family in need”. But I have a hunch there is a sizeable appetite and market for good news even beyond the current period of national despair. You only need to look at the massive (and lucrative) businesses built around positivity gurus like Tony Robins, Eckhart Tolle, and Wayne Dyer to see the revenue possibilities. Oprah’s TV and follow up online interviews with a diverse group of positive-oriented spiritual leaders in January of this year attracted a global audience of millions. And these weren’t even well known or mainstream religious icons.

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    Check out The Happy News for one example of “always positive” reporting by citizen journalists. Here’s an appeal for a new social network called totally good news.

    Watch more Sharkle.com videos on AOL Video

    Can folks suggest others?

    I wonder how negative reporting in the U.S. compares with that of other countries, and how that reporting impacts the national psyches of respective countries? Has anyone ever done a study of this?

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    Maybe mainstream media could benefit from a little pick-me-up, benefiting both our collective mood and the bottom line? Like many I can’t wait for a little good news.

    Tagged: eckhart tolle good news new york times thomas friedman tony robbins
    • I looked at those sites and found them to be way, WAY too shiny/happy for my tastes. I’d rather see Frontline-style documentary stories of people/organizations doing positive things, without the sheen of giddy smiles.

      A “good news” service should be both about telling stories about people doing good works, but should also be empowering in nature, telling/showing people that they, too, can do good works — small and large — in their communities of friends, neighbors and citizens.

      Show me the new house that Habitat for Humanity built, document how that’s done from start to finish, show me the people doing it, and tell me how I can participate or what I can start around me that would be supportive and positive.

      We feel so disconnected, so powerless — especially now — we need to know how we can be powerful, how we can make impacts.

      “Happy” news shouldn’t be about making you happy, it should be about feeling connected and fulfilled.

    • Michael Hollerbach

      Amen! I agree 100% I stopped watching the news and reading the paper years ago. I could not put all of the negativity into my subconcious anymore. There is a radio station that I listen to these days they have only positive news along with fantastic uplifting music. That station is
      K-Love….

    • Paul, there was a website in India few years ago that did just this.
      http://goodnewsindia.com/index.php/gni
      However, I don’t think this was driven by a business model to monetize

    • I agree that news pages could use a little more positivity, but that’s not necessarily a beat you have to assign to someone. A lot of user-contributed content and so-called “citizen journalism” fills in this gap very well.

      The Bakersfield Californian’s “You Report” section is full of stories that lift people in the community up. Same with The Bakersfield Voice. See examples here:

      Kern’s Top School Bus Driver Crowned:
      http://people.bakersfield.com/home/ViewPost/93003

      Churches Leave Buildings to Do Good in the Community
      http://people.bakersfield.com/home/ViewPost/93482

      And of course, user photo galleries. Tell people to upload their pet pictures and feel the good vibes flow:
      http://www.bakersfieldvoice.com/home/RecentSnapGalleries

    • John: agreed that “good news” shouldn’t just be happy go lucky, but present meaningful, thought provoking, and ideally action oriented content that does connect one with his/her local community and the world at large.

      Girish, thanks for the GoodNewsIndia site suggetsion. I’ll add it to my list!

    • Daniela Cabezas

      I believe this is a very good idea. the world is saturated with negative news

    • Daniela Cabezas

      The world is saturated with the negative news. The implementation of source that contains positive news, will motivated people to take a more positive attitude towards life. Also, instead of developing fears or prejudices will help the community to focus in been proactive and focus their attention in the fine side of the world. For example, The Happy News is a excellent proof that positive news can be spread around and delivering to households a more happy and spiritual message. However, I believe this new trend of reporting news for now may not be as profitable as the other chaotic and bad news. Nevertheless, with the constant growing of the number of people living “ green”, where people feels more connected with nature and the positive attitude towards life. This new positive news will take off very rapidly.

    • Bridget Bilodeau

      This seems like a great idea! Have you considered letting people post their own good news on your site? I really think this idea will benefit our society. Have you started this idea yet?

    • Kristin

      As a college student, moderately engaged in world issues, yet predominantly those mediated through the news stations via internet and television stations. I believe this is a remarkable idea. Happy News appears to be an obvious necessity to our society, yet we all strive on war, murder, hostility, and dramatic superstars’ break-ups. As a young adult I constantly ask myself, why? Our news covers the degrading aspects of our culture. In turn, we are internationally represented as an evil, unhappy, unstable, and angry nation, and I cannot understand any American hoping this be their countries representation. Happy News is a remarkable idea, and I believe the author’s correlation to Oprah’s positive success, bringing in millions, should be convincing enough. If we were hearing the truth from our president, facing the struggles our nation is going through, and incorporating happiness, I agree our nation would be a better society.

    • Kevin S.

      I love this idea. It would be nice change of pace to hear more stories of people doing good things on the TV and in newspapers. There is defiantly no shortage of people doing things to help out other people or their communities. And maybe if people were reading stories about people helping people it would encourage them to help out and do more good themselves. But on the downside there is no doubt in my mind that good news would never sell like bad news sells, and because of that we will probably never see a newspaper that reports mostly good news. But I’d like to be proven wrong!

    • Jesse Pleasants

      I think that this is an amazing idea… honestly I get tired of the same old stories all the time. It’s always a murder, or a plane crash, or something dealing with the police… For me, I like watching the lighter side of the news. When I hear a news anchor laughing, it actually grabs my attention because it’s something you don’t really hear that often. The good news is what inspires me, and possibly other people, and well, it makes you have a positive feeling… I’m with this idea 100% of the way!!

    • Amanda Wilkinson

      This is an idea that I implemented into my high school newspaper a few years ago. I titled the section of the paper “And Now for the Good News”. I, like you initially had the thought that this section would be of low interest. After students and teachers completed a survey on the section, I realized that there is one reason why everyone is so drawn to the “bad news”. All we have been fed is “bad news”. It goes back the classic idea that we are attracted to what the media deems attractive. We control the media so all we have to do is change what the media shows and promotes as attractive. Social networks like “Totally Good News” are building blocks for a new brand of media.

    • Michelle

      I agree that there is just too much bad news jamming up the nightly news and papers. Crime in my home town is actually decreasing little by little, but the news coverage is always about crime. If I wasn’t from this area I would be scared to death to leave my room. But the fact is, people only want to hear about the planes that crash, not the hundreds that land safely everyday. If it bleeds, it leads. It is a shame. Its time for uplifting news!! Good deeds reported on may lead to other good deeds done.

    • Jessica

      I think this is great. As a journalism student, it seems that all we get to write about it all that is bad in the world. I’m starting to think that all the bad news in making people paranoid. It is about time to read something positive.

    • Daniel Eaton

      It isn’t that I thrive on disastrous news about bombings or lives lost in local communities, but I feel that news should not be categorized as happy or sad, rather as hard-hitting or fluff.
      I would love it if the only news to report was about children getting inspired by their teacher, or families moving in to a house built by Habitat for Humanity, but sometimes there is more important news to be reported. Besides, how would families feel if the tragic deaths of their loved ones didn’t get any attention at all?
      At any rate, if all hard hitting news has to be tragic, I would rather see journalists come up with a ‘rising from the ashes’ aspect to the story in order to overcome all of the doom and gloom rather than move the story to the back burner in light of fluff pieces.

    • Janine Villeneau

      I think using good news is a wonderful business plan! Everyone could use a little lift in their day and the news is something that everyone dreads watching. Showing people the silver lining to life might make everyone’s days just a little brighter! Although bad news is usually the out of the ordinary news people want to read about, everyone gets tired of all of the gloom and doom they hear everyday and no matter how serious someone might be, everyone needs a little good news now and then! This is a wonderful idea that I really hope takes off because it is definitely news that I would read.

    • Wow, clearly there is some interest in pushing forward a good news business model, despite the obvious question of whether it would actually sell?

      As for your comment, Daniel (Eaton), clearly there is a balance to be struck here between important /relevant news stories. In my opinion it’s not about all one kind of reporting or another. It’s about balancing the scales so that we get more of the “good” stuff and not just the bad. How individual media outlets want to approach that (i.e., going “all good”, “small good” or sectioning off a portion of their reporting the “good” stuff ) is up to them.

      Bottom line we need hope and inspiration, and there is no reason why superb reporting can’t accomplish that. They are not mutually exclusive.

    • Actually the Christian Science Monitor has an editorial focus on exactly good news that is not just feel good. People might want to check it out at
      http://www.csmonitor.com/makingadifference

    • Thanks for the Christian Science Monitor reference MichaelJ. Another one to add to the Good News list.

    • I actually recently launched such a site, called Good News Gazette (http://www.goodnewsgazette.net), that is focused on positive and inspiring stories from around the web. The site tries to strike a balance between stories that just make you feel good and those highlighting people taking action to positively impact the world around them. For those of you specifically interested in the latter, check out the “Be the Change” section of the Human Interest page.

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