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2011 August 22 - 12:00 am

TECHNOLOGY TODAY: Good News Websites May Counter Negativity

An international crisis or two involving war, terrorism, monetary instability, famine, and natural disasters always seems to be happening somewhere in the world. National problems surrounding the deficit, employment, housing, the environment and consumer affairs never end. Local troubles including crime, government corruption, labor issues, fires, and road closures seem to be an everyday reality.

It’s no wonder that daily newspapers appear at times to be filled with bad news. The reality also is that people enjoy reading about the troubles of others and that doing so can sometimes prevent you from having troubles yourself.

But people have also always complained about what they regard as the overemphasis on negativity in the news, and this applies today as well, regardless of how you get your news, from a printed newspaper, television, radio, personal computer or mobile device such as a Smartphone.

If you want to balance what you see as negativity with positivity, places exist on the Web today where you can read only good news.

Good News Stories (www.goodnewsstories.org) is a free ad-supported site that gathers positive news stories from around the world. According to its “About” page, “This site was born out of a frustration with mainstream news sites only reporting negative news in the main instead of focusing on the positive side of things. Good news stories will only report on happy and upbeat news to put a smile on the face of people worldwide.”

The site’s opening page presents you with a selection of what’s regarded as the most important stories. You can also find stories according to geographic location and such categories as business, education, health, and politics. As with many news sites, you can leave comments, but first you have to register with the site, which is free.

Good News Network (www.goodnewsnetwork.org) presents positive news stories through both text and video. Its mission is “to provide a ‘Daily Dose of News to Enthuse.’” Like Good News Stories, it acts as a news aggregator, collecting upbeat news from around the globe. The news stories in its “Most Popular” section are free, but to read other articles you need to subscribe, which starts at $2 per month.

“Negative news is an important staple of any well-informed citizenry and necessary for society’s evolution,” according to Geri Weis-Corbley, the site’s editor and publisher. “But today we are in dire need of a well-balanced media diet. Local TV news, especially, has been continually feeding us junk food. We need to be informed by a world view that is not dripping with sensationalism and attuned to the police scanner.”

Happy News (www.happynews.com) isn’t updated as frequently as the two previous sites, but it’s also a good repository of feel-good information. Its emphasis is on “virtue, goodwill, and heroism,” and it collects news of this nature among other ways through “citizen journalists” who report from around the world.

This free ad-supported site also includes video clips, optimistic quotations from philosophers, regular columnists, and how-to tips on subjects ranging from quitting smoking to saving for college. A “Happy Products” section offers news of products such as chocolate and Earth-friendly candles. As with the two previous sites, news is categorized, into areas such as national, health, and heroes.

With HelpOthers.org (www.helpothers.org), the emphasis is more on deeds than words. Site visitors share stories of “real-life acts of kindness,” with the object being to inspire others and “pay it forward.” The site also includes “kindness ideas” regarding things you can do for others to help make them happy.

The site features an “Idea Contest” in which you’re asked what you would do to bring more kindness to your community if you had an extra $100. Each month the person who is judged to have submitted the best idea wins $100. If you have any questions about anything at the site, you can send a message to one of its “kindness experts.”

HelpOthers.org doesn’t feature ads or require subscriptions to gain access to extra content. For funding it relies on donations, which individuals can make through PayPal or by mailing a check, and on contributions from companies and foundations.

As with anything on the Web, not everything is always as it seems, even though the intentions may be quite good.

A lot of “good news” sites are religious in nature, spreading the gospel of Jesus Christ. This may be very good news to you, but the content at these sites isn’t news in the conventional sense -- at least it hasn’t been for close to two thousand years.

Reid Goldsborough is a syndicated columnist and author of the book Straight Talk About the Information Superhighway. He can be reached at reidgold@comcast.net or www.reidgoldsborough.com.

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