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Home / Articles / Columnists / On the Bright Side /  Start Spreading The Gnews
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Tuesday, November 1,2011

Start Spreading The Gnews

gnews [nyooz] noun: good news; information presented about positive things happening in the world.

By Jonna Shutowick. M.S. Ed.  

The thing about news is it no longer means what it was meant to. The term “newspaper” derives its meaning from the idea that each day new events around us were reported to us. There is nothing really new about news today. Sure, the headlines change, but there is nothing fresh about the stories on any given day. Even the most prudent reporters hardly offer us an objective picture of what is truly going on in our world. We learn only about what goes wrong. It would be great if the media felt they had an obligation to report what happens in our world, not just what goes wrong, but news is big business, and the 24/7 news cycle has only exacerbated the “if it bleeds it leads” mentality. Ironic, really, because it would seem that more time to fill would bring more variety to the news space. This has not, however, been the outcome. Thirty years ago, a research group in Britain analyzed the front pages of newspapers during a two-week period looking for the ratio between positive and negative stories on the front pages. This was the Seventies, at the height of the Cold War. Their data reported one positive story against 3 negative stories, on average. Recently, a similar study was done and found one positive story against 17 negative ones. These findings help explain the “hell in a handbasket” mentality that has permeated much of the daily discourse. Research (and common sense) would show that there has not been a 500% increase in disasters in the past forty years, so what can reasonably be surmised is that the expectation for what we consider “news” is what has changed. Fortunately, there seems to be a shift gaining momentum that offers to balance out this paradigm.

Whereas we would be led to believe that Africa, for example, is a place of continuous disaster, in actuality, the per capita income of the vast majority of African countries is much higher than that of a much reported up-and-coming economic superpower of the developing world: India. I don’t know this because I read the newspaper or watch television. I learned this from one of the many news sites that are popping up all over the internet offering glimpses into what is going right in the world (in this case a website for one of my favorite magazines, ODE). Just as we can choose to tune into information that satisfies our particular viewpoints, we can also choose what kind of information we are in the mood to be updated about. There is news, and there is gnews.

I know that there are problems in the world, and I don’t close my eyes to misery. But as with anything in life, balance is the key. So after learning about the market, and what’s new in the war on terror, and who is or isn’t running for President on any given day, I click over to a newsfeed of another stripe and read positive stories about my fellow human beings meeting challenges, finding solutions and making positive contributions in the world. And if the blogosphere is a reliable barometer, I am sensing that the public’s desire for different stories is carving its own niche into the marketplace as well. I love that I write for your local source for Good News. We, the writers, and you, the readers, are part of something larger that is slowly gaining momentum as a balancing force in the public sphere of “info-space.” This is good news.


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