Good News! Feel good with positive news websites
Since I no longer subject myself to daily news, I’m happier. It takes an attitude shift to stop indulging in gossip and the likes of “current affairs”, Facebook, newspapers, and the general doom and gloom of modern journalism. Having said that, I still need to know what’s going on in the world. If you want a better outlook but still need to stay informed, then I have good news for you…
- No news is good news
- Good news is better news
- Positive news sites worth checking out
- Lesser-quality positive news sites
- Sites to avoid
- See Also
No news is good news
As a child I respected what I understood to be “the news”. Adults seemed to rely on it for stories of greater human importance, of world-wide relevance, of intelligent meaningful facts, and of cultural enrichment. I assumed that some day it would help me to make important decisions, and otherwise shape my life for the better. As I grew up, though, my perspective changed. In particular, a couple of years ago, I noticed something interesting…
Frequently my job has required that I work on others people’s computers. I’d launch their web browser, and be presented with the system default homepage. To be specific, it was mostly “ninemsn”, and something on that page would inevitably catch my eye. Before I knew it, I’d be robotically clicking through news articles, and brooding.
I say “news articles”, but more often I’d be poring over articles covering: the stupidity of Stereotype A; the absurdity unfolding amongst Minority B; or what Teacher C had been doing to Student D with object E under circumstances that seemed wholly un-curricular. And then I’d get angry – at humanity, at the world, at life, at myself for wasting time – but the clincher was when I realised I was more angry at the site for making this readily available to me. It was insulting too, that I was probably just being manipulated anyway.
I decided to stop paying attention to mass-media, which at first was difficult; it’s all around in one form or another. I’d become addicted to being incensed by society – as though my outrage reinforced that I was a better person and deserved more out of life than others.
After a while, though, I became apathetic to keeping up with current events and I felt happier. I didn’t so much like the sense of being ignorant, though. I needed to be informed somehow, so what could I do?
Good news is better news
It stands to reason that if you’re immersed in an environment dominated by negative views, then you’re likely to become negative yourself. A negative environment drags you down, and we’re all inclined to sway with that pack mentality. This is not to say that wearing rose-coloured glasses is a solution. Rather, one should have a healthy mix of reality to keep informed, positive, and appropriately impassioned all at once. With this in mind, I set out to find some sources of positive news on the Internet, using the following as a makeshift set of guidelines for assessing any candidate sites:
- An ideal site should:
- Have truthful, important stories from around the world;
- Show alternative positive views on current negative topics;
- Suitably present the specific importance of serious/grave issues to its audience;
- Present researched and moderated content of high quality, with intelligent, adult writing;
- Show suitable respect to the people covered in its stories;
- Balance important world-stage news with uplifting, forward-focused stories.
- Really be worth sharing.
- An ideal site should NOT:
- Promote any particular interest, political view, cultural view, or religious standing;
- Sugar-coat anything;
- Resort to hyperbolic headlines to get attention, or any other link baiting;
- Present an idealised substitute for reality;
- Show a preoccupation with hollow celebrities;
- Take an elitist view, or otherwise try to exclude a willing audience;
- Make a spectacle of the suffering of others.
- Function as promotion for a news service that shamelessly profits from negativity, or from manipulating people’s views.
A quick Google search for “positive news sites” turned up a lot of results and it seemed it should be easy to find some that would meet at least most of the criteria above. However, as I started working through the list, my optimism faded somewhat. At best, most sites seemed to be little more than a blog, and really didn’t feel like true journalistic outlets at all.
Nevertheless I persevered and my findings are interesting…
Positive news sites worth checking out
I was impressed with this site. By the time I came across it, I had been through a dozen poor-quality “good news” sites, and I was ready for the fresh, balanced perspective that OdeWire provides. As a site maintained by The Intelligent Optimist magazine (formerly “Ode Magazine”), it does not simply avoid bad news and pile on feel-good filler. Rather it offers a stream of realistically objective stories that seem to be hand-selected from many reputable news outlets around the world. To quote a recent article of theirs:
Optimism has nothing to do with ignoring reality and denying the bad hands that life often deals us.
The site’s tagline of “News for Intelligent Optimists” appears to be backed up by good content. There seems to be an even mix here: Encouraging positive stories are interspersed with reports of serious world events, presented in a way that is both informative and mature. Reading through this site gives me a sense that I am participating in something intelligent and important, that really is news, while maintaining a sense of calm and neutrality.
“Positive News” claims itself as “the world’s first positive newspaper”, and is another site which seems to be professional in its presentation and writing, while staying true to its message. Amongst its benefits are that it has an accompanying newspaper in print and it has a strong community involvement. As a publication of the Positive News Trust charity, its staff largely comprise young volunteers, including up-and-coming journalists who have an opportunity to gain valuable experience.
The overall quality and value of the stories is generally pleasing, with world-wide relevance (including Argentinian and Spanish counterparts). There is an even spread of detailed reports of higher importance, as well as shorter stories that are up-lifting and motivational, while remaining relevant and down-to-earth. If you benefit from the site, or at least believe in their purpose, you are encouraged to make a donation at the end of each article.
This one may surprise you, as it did me. When I saw it I nearly abandoned it, for two reasons: (a) its visual presentation seems to be very “tacky”, for want of a better word; and (b) there is an overt religious aspect, which often means you can expect the journalistic integrity of the stories to suffer. Despite this, though, the stories themselves seem to actually be of high quality, with perhaps the highest number of new stories per week of any other sites I’ve reviewed.
As an Australian, I was pleased to see at least a couple of stories on the first page that were highly relevant to me. The same seems to be true for readers from many other countries, particularly with an Arabic counterpart. I have seen perhaps the most diverse range of cultures and demographics represented at this site, making it live up to its “Global Good News” name. As with the other two examples above, this site features mature, intelligent articles that are meaningful and informative.
This newsfeed is actually part of a larger site called Optimist World, which aims to inspire its readers and promote goodwill in general. The site as a whole has a friendly and polished appearance, giving it a more-youthful feel.
Articles at Optimist World are well-written and easy to read for all ages. They give a sense of light-hearted satisfaction, without being immature or saccharine. My only criticisms are that: (1) the articles seem to have more of a Western focus with less attention to important world-wide events; and (2) compared to other sites, it is not updated all that frequently. Other than that, it is definitely worth a read from time to time.
Lesser-quality positive news sites
Finding high-quality positive news sites is difficult; the ones given above stand out of the dozens I inspected. Most of the rest are a little cheesy (especially when there’s a religious message involved), or simply have a very amateurish “blog-like” feel and are unashamed about manipulating you to wander aimlessly through their pages to generate advertising revenue.
While the following sites don’t meet as many of my key criteria, I can at least commend them for the positive impact they aim to provide. There are many sites that follow in the style of these, so I’ve only listed a handful. Search around, and you may find some that really appeal to you or otherwise contribute further value in your daily quest to be optimistic.
This one pops up a bit in other people’s recommendations for Good News websites. While it has a nobile purpose, like many of the sites I list here, I find it to be a little weak overall. The site is not updated very often, which is more of a problem given that the articles are not particularly important or relevant. The stories seem to have a strong focus on the USA, with subjects and headlines that are selected specifically to snare your clicks (and hence push more ads). Gimundo is fine if you’re looking for a quick pick-me-up, but beyond that has limited intellectual appeal.
As with Gimundo, this site and its “Good News” newsfeed do meet their targets of being positive, but also like Gimundo the stories are a bit thin, and the professionalism a bit sparse. The site is easily-accessible and has a lot to offer, but most of what it offers is again designed to snare clicks and just keep you browsing. What this leads to is hyperbolic headlines (e.g. “This is amazing. You have to see this…” and “Incredible thing happens. Watch the video!” without qualification), very short stories loaded with pictures, and topics that are not overly important or realistic. This is fine if you have nothing better to do, but I get about as much intellectual satisfaction from an article on this site as I do from reading a proverb inside the lid of a fruit juice bottle.
Here’s another site which seems to feature prominently, but doesn’t impress me much. It suffers from mostly the same problems as the other examples given above, though I can at least credit the fact that it “feels” more like a news site and provides a frequent stream of stories that have intellectual appeal without being too sugar-coated. Still, those stories are often thin, and have a heavily American focus from what I can tell.
The articles at this site are fine, if a bit light. Few of the stories are what I would call “news”, in that they are not particularly ground-breaking or relevant to current events, and are more of what you’d expect from a blog. That’s OK, and I commend the fact that they are informative and are presented well with meaningful, mature headlines. I’d almost bump this site up to the list of better sites worth checking out, except that at the time of writing, Happy News hasn’t been updated for at least 6 weeks; the most recent article is dated October 16th, 2013.
This site is reasonably good, with meaningful stories presented in a mature way. It’s worth reading, and has value overall. The only problems with it are that the presentation is very basic, there’s slightly too much focus on US stories, and it is infrequently updated. Besides that, though, I’d suggest you keep an eye on it.
Here we start to get into the curiosity that is major news outlets trying to capitalise on a growing interest in positive news. There are some cases where this really becomes farcical (and we’ll see a couple below), but NBC News’ “Wonderful World” section isn’t too bad. It’s quite glorified with an almost exclusive focus on American stories, some of which are a bit on the banal side, but at least NBC News seems to be trying to maintain some sense of integrity, which is more than I can say for the following examples. Doesn’t it deserve a nicer URL, though?
Sites to avoid
I see the sites below as ones you should avoid because they really miss the mark overall. They rarely offer anything original or of value, often have infantile headlines designed to catch clicks, and besides failing on many of my guidelines they are often shameless commercial exploitations being peddled by the major news networks. All in all, these will waste your time, do nothing to inform you on the world stage, and offer nothing intellectual.
This site stands out as the only “good news” site that makes me actually angry. The stories are trite, and heavily American. The presentation is childish; categories such as “AWW” and “OMG”, with endless hyperbolic headlines, really insult my intelligence. The cluttered noise of links begging you to click everywhere really cheapens this site by highlighting how they don’t care what you do, so long as you see as many ads as possible.
All that aside, the one thing which openly infuriates me is that a big chunk of the page – one third of the right-hand side of the first few screenfuls – is dedicated to stories from the rest of Huffington Post. These are almost always horrible or at least highly negative, and tailored to enrage.
Unlike HuffPost, above, this site is not terrible. There are some key things about it, though, which mean it won’t be part of my daily hunt for positive news. Besides failing to meet several of my guidelines, it is a little too focused on America, and – as seems to be typical of the major news sites now – relies far too much on video content. This is incredibly frustrating, as I often want to read articles (especially during a quick break at the office).
What’s more frustrating is that the video stream seems to start, run, and roll on to the next article all on its own, each time playing the same annoying ad before each brief “news” segment. At first I loaded up several stories as separate tabs, in advance, expecting to read each one in turn. Instead, I heard one ad fire up three times with overlapping audio, while my browser started to grind to a halt, trapping me in an endless Orwellian spiel about baby oil.
This really isn’t what I’d call news. It’s just YouTube videos. Some may be from commercial news networks, but most are just mental “candy” with footage of babies, animals, and minor thrills. This is highly un-informative, and we can get an endless stream of this sort of stuff from anywhere.
I don’t really know who Daryn Kagan is, and though I suppose she deserves some recognition for what appears to be a personal plight to bring positives stories to the fore, I am not overly impressed with her website. Measuring it by my guidelines, it misses the mark a bit, largely just linking to the same sort of unimportant “filler” videos found on all of these low-quality sites.
While it may be difficult for some of us – maybe most of us – to avoid being emotionally manipulated by big business and especially Big News, we can take measures to avoid its triggers and traps. This can, at times, be an effort or even inconvenient in this modern world saturated in advertising, social media, endless immediately-accessible information, and commercial entertainment. Nevertheless, time out is an important thing. There’s a lot to be said for going off the grid occasionally, and just experiencing the world for yourself.
If you MUST be subjected to negativity, try to find something to balance it, in the realm of good news. There is actually a lot of good news to be found; times may not actually be so bad as what the relentless thrust of negative news would otherwise have us believe. When you do find something genuinely and valuably good, share it, and do so in an intelligent way. Feel free to share with me, too!
- Some regional good news sites:
- Similar articles:
- Indices of Good News sites and resources: