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Better All The Time #26

 

Dispatches from a rapidly changing, rapidly improving world

#26 12/10/05

Welcome to the In Search of Good News edition of Better All the Time. This time out, we thought we would do a little experiment. Rather than cherry-picking a few good news stories from numerous sources around the Web -- which is our normal modus operandi -- this time we decided to see what a general web search for good news would yield. We went to the Yahoo! and Google news sites and grabbed 50 news stories from each. No, we didn't just grab the top 50 news stories from each. It would be all too easy to do that and then bemoan the lack of good news coverage.

Instead, we did a search for "good news" on both the Yahoo! and Google news sites. Having cranked out 25 previous editions of Better All the Time, we know that good news doesn't come leaping off the page from a casual perusal of the headlines. But what happens if you go to the news sites and say, "Hey, how about a little good news, please?"

What follows is a mash-up of the top 100 results.

 

 

 

Today's Good Stuff:

Quote of the Day

  1. No Good News
  2. No News is Good News 
  3. Tidings of Comfort and Joy
  4. The Wacky World of Sports
  5. That Other "Good News" Story
  6. Good News, Bad News
  7. Limited Good News
  8. The Real Stuff  

  Quote of the Day

According to Buddhism, there's good news, and there's bad news — the bad news is life is inherently suffering, but the good news is that it's possible to overcome the suffering.

The Daily News Journal, epitomizing the mainstream media's approach to good news.  

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Item 1
No Good News

Although media outlets seem to prefer to use the phrase "good news" in a vague and dismissive way (as we'll see with some of the later results), sometimes the phrase crops up in news stories where there was essentially no good news content. This was the case with three of our top 100 results.

1

Lacking good news, the climb to Dow 11,000 is looking steep 

2

No previews is not good news for 'Aeon Flux'

3

NBC: "All Good News, All the Time," Says Couric

Two of these stories talk about a lack of good news; one is a satire about NBC reporting nothing but good news from here on in (mildly funny). None of them have any actual good news to report. They came up in the search more or less by coincidence.

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Item 2
No News Is Good News 

The phrase "good news" is part of a couple of formulas that reporters are quite fond of using. By far and away the favorite, as we will see in Item 6, below, is the old standby, "There's good news and there's bad news."   However, another popular choice is "No news is good news." Four out of 100 news search results for "good news" were variations on that theme.

4

No news is good news for Zuma 

5

No news is good news? 

6

No news is good news with Couric rumor

7

Palestine: A Week of Good News, but Will It Last?...

Only one of these news stories, number 7, has any actual good news content. But as is often the case, the good news is doled out as reluctantly as possible. A week of good news, BUT will it last? The assumption here is that no, of course, it can't possibly last. Good news is notable primarily for the fact that it always lets us down.

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Item 3
Tidings of Comfort and Joy

The phrase "good news" has a special meaning for Christians. As Christmas approaches, it's not surprising that a news search would pick up several instances of this use of the phrase:

8

Holiday cynicism is inevitable, but there are antidotes for it 

9

I bring you good news

10

Share the Good News

While these stories are of relevance only to a particular demographic, these are our first examples of writers using the phrase because they believe that they're actually on to some good news. Kind of refreshing, isn't it?

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Item 4
The Wacky World of Sports

Sports writers use the phrase "good news" quite a bit. Here are the sports stories that emerged in our 100 results:

11

Vaas in form is good news: Atapattu 

12

·Rutgers' Ajavon still not herself 

13

VOICES 

14

Owen In The Squad 

15

Lynch not fined, suspended for hit on wideout 

16

Flags score against McMorran deficit 

17

Depth makes Vestal a Section 4 frontrunner 

18

Will Practice Make The Orange Perfect? 

19

Good news short-lived

20

USM Gets Good News

21

Some good news... and bad

22

Why Pawar in power is good news for BCCI

23

The good news: Feely missed only one

A few observations on these stories:

  1. It can well be argued that "good news" in the field of sports is of slight importance in the overall scheme of things. That's probably why there were no stories about sports in the first 25 editions of Better All the Time.
  2. Not all of these are "good news" stories, anyway. Items 19 and 20 are prime examples of the "there's no good news" / "there's good news and there's bad news" stools of reporting. And look at that snarky number 23. Nice. Really nice.
  3. Even if one will concede that sports news counts as good news, and manages to find a true good-news story, the good news is often of limited appeal. Look at number 15 -- good news indeed for those of us fortunate enough to be Broncos fans, but of very little significance to anyone else. (And probably pretty annoying to some Kansas City fans.)
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Item 5
That Other "Good News" Story

Four of the stories were about the controversial US practice of paying journalists in Iraq to write positive news stories:

24

Editorial: Buying good news from the Iraqi press

25

Pentagon Pays Iraqi Papers To Print Its 'Good News' Stories

26

All the good news that money can buy

27

Paying for good news

These represent good news primarily for critics of the Bush administration on the lookout for new material.

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Item 6
Good News, Bad News

Now we come to the first of our two biggest categories. These stories all play the "There's good news and there's bad news" game:

28

Disturbing trend tempers good news on longevity 

29

Expected Snow Totals Down, But Freezing Rain, Sleet Added 

30

We’re living longer in U.S. 

31

Righteous leadership 

32

Tomas to cut part of incentive pay ‘if fireman really stole the money’ 

33

Passenger ferries, from futility to consultancy 

34

Ring in the New Year your way 

35

Water project hits snag 

36

UCD women trying to get over .500 hump 

37

Grammy tilt a boost for Kylie 

38

·Snowpack gets off to good start 

39

·Survey: University area among most lean in state 

40

If you're reading this, the good news is that the worst may be over. 

41

Zen Buddhism offers both good, bad news 

42

National newspaper ABCs (November 2005 ): Sunday Telegraph relaunch pays off 

43

Citizens step forward so society doesn't go backward 

44

Good and bad audit news for Flowery Branch 

45

All the good news coming out of Iraq that's fit to ignore

46

Where's all the good news about Iraq?

47

Bush Basks in Economic Good News ; Fiscal Policies, Deficits Worry ...

48

Good News For The Budget, For Now

49

Good news, and bad, on local test scores

50

Good News for Country Estates Residents

51

Good news: You can control bills

52

A good news-bad news column that's mostly good

53

Bush Welcomes Good News on Economy

54

Ashra al-Awsat - Palestine: A Week of Good News, but Will It Last?

55

Bush Welcomes Good News on Economy

56

Bush talks up good economic news

57

Hold the good news, please. The markets may not stomach all those ...

58

Hold the good news, please

59

Bad and good news from the battle front

60

Nigerian car plates: good news in a troubled land

61

Good news on jobs fails to extend rally

The authors of each of these articles took the position that the good news presented needed to be tempered or countered or put into a some kind of dampening context. Number 48 plays the same game that we saw earlier in number 7: there's good news now, but you don't really expect it to last, do you? Items 57 and 58 are warnings that too much good news might be a bad thing. Items 45 and 46 are actually complaints that there is plenty of good news and that it's being ignored. (Maybe that should have been its own category?) Items 55 and 56 look like reasonably positive stories if you read just the headline and the blurb. You need to go into the actual articles before you get hit by that big BUT. Number 37 could have gone a couple of ways: is it an inspiring story or the chance to wallow in the artist's suffering?

So what is up with this Good News / Bad News thing, anyway? we would guess that journalists would insist that this approach lends balance to a news story. The world is a complex place, and just reporting that things are wonderful -- or that anything is all right -- smacks of overenthusiasm and nonseriousness and other journalistic no-no's. This argument would be far more compelling if bad news stories also required balance and mitigation , but we all know that that's not the case. Journalists can report that things are bad with impunity. In fact, they can even report that things are bad no matter what happens.

Finally, look at that first story, number 28. If we had done our standard Better All the Time this week, that would have probably been our top story. People are living longer. That's good news! Right? Well, it may sound like good news BUT...now there are more old folks who are overweight and have high blood pressure. That's "disturbing" because of the health care costs that these people will incur when their unhealthy lifestyles catch up with them.

Stay with the logic a moment. A few years back, these people would not have lived as long. They would have died of something else before becoming old and fat and hypertensive (probably something related to cigarette smoking.) And in some sense, we would have been better off if they had done so. That's the argument, though they don't want to come right out and say it. In order to be balanced and serious, the position taken here is that we would be better off with some people dead.

Seems like kind of a reach to us (and a nasty one at that.) We're going to take the fact that people are living longer at its face value. It's good news.

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Item 7
Limited Good News

Finally we come to the real stuff. The following are all actual good news stories. They represent "limited" good news in that they apply to a relatively small group of people or they are of limited duration or subject to some other fail-safe that makes it okay to report on them. Enjoy!

62

Good news for 2,300 who applied for jobs at career fair

63

‘Good news’: Chinese firms reject RP’s guso 

64

All retail applicants of Genting IPO to get shares through scale-back process 

65

Slopes open at West Mountain 

66

Lancaster County Budget Proposal Leaner, But Not Meaner, This Year 

67

Average figures are good news for city 

68

MnDOT upgrading hotly-debated Hwy. 5 by pass 

69

All retail applicants of Genting IPO to get shares through scale-back process 

70

Novell Is Flush With Good News 

71

Back in black (I have to say I'm glad to be back) 

72

Lexington restaurant gets a ‘Blue Ribbon’ 

73

Gold's critical day - Issy 

74

Cattlemen optimistic on Japan's beef news 

75

Reader Comments Ars Technica - Dec 08 4:16 PM Good news from the Office front:

76

Spas are shining all over Wales 

77

·More good news 

78

Students show improvement again 

79

RM1mil to fulfil Barisan pledges 

80

Good news for Proctor's

81

Good News for reluctant mothers: breastfeeding can be easier

82

Energy promoters say federal study shows good news

83

ABI: Moves to strengthen planning process good news

84

Good news for job seekers

85

Good news: Dunagan returns from sea; Roper, by ers honored

86

Marine's family receives good news after attack

87

Good News For Canucks As Best Buy Restocks

88

Here, good news is in the pipeline

89

Good news for high-end cars

90

RIM gets good news in patent case

91

Good news: You can fly with your tools again

92

Good Corporate News in China? Stop Laughing

93

Raisin growers finally get some good news

94

Wild weather brings good news to Qld farmers

We are pleased to report that limited good news makes up the single biggest category in our search, almost a third of the total stories found. So even in world where so much is going wrong, and where those who report the news are discouraged from getting carried away with happy stuff, there is some good news out there.

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Item 8
The Real Stuff

Finally, we come to the real good news -- goings-on that we can all take comfort in, be inspired by, or simply be glad to know.

95

Good news on ID theft Likelihood of fraud after security breach is surprisingly low, analysis finds

96

Worried villagers get good news 

97

 Your Link to Germany 

98

The week of December 09, 2005  

99

Good news from the Middle East.

100

Good News for Diabetics

It's interesting to note that number 99, the Krauthammer piece, is essentially the same story as numer 7. The only difference is that Krauthammer left out the big BUT. So out of 100 news stories containing the phrase "good news," more than a third really are good news stories and six are the sort of story that we normally run in Better All the Time. Six is nothing to sneeze at, but it's not even enough to make a full edition of BATT.

In linking to us, Glenn Reynolds has noted that this feature tends towards technology news. It's not that we favor technology news over other kinds...well, okay it isn't just that we favor technology news over other kinds. The fact is, if you read the science and technology pages, you'll find that the rate of good news stories is a lot higher than 6%.

That does it for this time. We'll return next time with our normal format and a special Christmas edition. Until then, keep looking for the good news, folks. It's out there. 

 

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Better All The Time is compiled by Phil Bowermaster, Stephen Gordon, and Michael Sargent. For more news on how our world is rapidly changing and improving, check out the latest FastForward Radio and the Carnival of Tomorrow.

UPDATE: Here's another reliable source of good news. Hat-tip: Dave Gobel.

Live to see it!

Comments

actually, there is a website specialiced in good news. but it's in spanish... and, being a government website, more than one half are "government-program-success-reports". but there are good ones sometimes, like the recycled plastic bricks (most houses in mexico are built with bricks)...

http://www.presidencia.gob.mx/buenasnoticias/

(btw this is my first comment here...)

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