Is Good News, news?

It’s  Good News week at a Huff that’s flush and ready to play. Arianna Huffington introduces news with out the ‘bad’ (bit like Adrianna without a ‘d’).

Preview

Adrianna has more good news

In the late 70′s (and there’s probably been many since) a survey in the US asked readers to define news and the majority (80% I think) said that only ‘bad news’ was news and  ‘good news’ wasn’t.

But what is news? It’s an interesting question, especially today. With the proliferation of  social media and the publication of  what Andrew Keen calls ‘gossip’, Huffington might just be swimming with the current.

In 2002 I launched a nightly series on the ABC called George Negus Tonight  (6:30 pm slot, four nights a week). Very quickly the show found an audience – a huge following for that key, but under played slot – doubling and sometimes even trebling previous figures. For a while that George became more popular at 6:30 on Aunty that even Dr Who (hard to believe, I know, but it was true).

It’s also true that George has a pull factor, even at 70 years of age (his Q score is – was – in the high 80′s), but GNT did well  not only because of George, but because it offered good news stories 4 nights a week at a time (6:30pm) when other networks were giving us more doom and gloom.

The audience in Australia were ready for some inspirational stuff (I had a problem and this is how I dealt with it and you can too),  maybe with the US economy in tatters, the presidential race and all its vexatious media hotting up – maybe it’s just as Huffington writes, time for a change and some good news:

I’m delighted to announce the launch of HuffPost Good News, a new section that will shine a much-needed spotlight on what’s inspiring, what’s positive, what’s working — and what’s missing from what most of the media chooses to cover. (Arianna Huffington 12/1/12)

She just might be right. Media largely chooses to ignore good news and focuses on gore and desperation instead. Huffington adds:

Everywhere around the country, people and communities are doing amazing things, overcoming great odds, and facing real challenges with perseverance, creativity and grace. But these stories are rarely told online, in newspapers, and on TV (especially if you live in a primary state being bombarded with negative attack ads).

And with social media being as prolific as it is (13,000,000 hours of video uploaded to YouTube in 2010), Huffington has a ready source of content. If she chooses to use it she’ll need to curate it before she aggregates it:

HuffPost Good News will be using a variety of storytelling tools to bridge the wide gap that separates the world as it is from the world as portrayed by the bulk of the media.

So will this be a ‘worlds best home videos and stories’, a collection of content sourced from the public? Huffington’s comments below offer a clue:

These stories of real people and their countless acts of empathy and ingenuity are overshadowed not only by actual crises — and sadly, there are plenty — but, more often, by the various manufactured crises sucking up precious media oxygen, from the deadline-pushing theatrics of debt ceiling debates and government shutdowns to the Balloon Boys, Casey Anthonys and Koran-burning pastors of the world. The excuse often given by the media is that these stories are “what the public wants.” Well, we don’t believe that, and HuffPost Good News will be our answer, and challenge, to that cynicism.

Who writes or produces ‘these stories’? Are they the stories ‘the public wants’ ? Is that just an excuse, or in Huffington’s case a challenge – a ‘call’ to arms to?  Stories like this, where a nurse gave one of her kidneys to her ailing patient – but written by who – you or the HuffPost?

A modern day Florence Nightingale

Huffington says they will be ‘stories of real people’ – but are they written by real people? Is she offering a vehicle for citizen journalism written by citizens? Will she make an offer to ‘pay for play’ – send in your best and if we like it and use it, you’ll get paid for it? Or, will she pay her journos to ‘curate’ the content generated by other agencies?

For the skeptics out there this could be exactly what the UGC world has been waiting for a wake up call. If you see your neighbors work online at the HuffPost, you might consider moving your style of UGC from ‘gossage’,  to a  level of reporting.

So check out HuffPost Good News. Here’s hoping it sets off copycat acts of good news reporting across the media. Please use the comment section to point us toward the good news we’re missing and, as always, let us know what you think.

Watch this space to find out who’s reporting the good news at the HuffPost – you or them – corporate citizen journalists or citizen journalists.

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