Adam Clare was looking for some good news and having trouble getting it.
So he did something about it.
Clare, 29, teaches at George Brown College in Toronto, Five years ago, he found himself frustrated by the abundance of negative news in mainstream media. That’s how thingsaregood.com was born.
He created the website as a catalyst for good news and to show the world that things are indeed good.
“How can we make the world a bit better by using the news itself?” Clare said he asked himself.
Stories cover topics ranging from an article about the United Nations’ initiative to stop climate change, to a look at Toronto’s decision to become the world’s first city to use harm reduction in its approach to drug use.
Clare explained he finds content from media sources all over. He cross-references stories and brings a brief picture to his website in hopes that people will explore the topic further.
He feels that mainstream media often takes things too far and it ends up being fear-mongering.
“Blood does pay the bills,” Clare said. “I can tell you from running thingsaregood that good news does not bring in money.”
The site has attracted a few advertisers, but not enough to cover the cost of running the site.
The most challenging aspect of the job is defining just what good news is.
As Joe Fiorito, columnist for the Toronto Star, pointed out, good news is very subjective.
“You might not think of a story about… a hit-and-run driver being caught and sent to jail as terrific news,” he said. “But if you happen to be a member of the family of the person who was hurt and you see justice done, then you view the story very differently.”
For Fiorito news cannot be defined as good or bad.
“You have to look at what the role of journalism is,” he said. “And in its sort of simplest and most basic and also most clichéd form it’s meant to comfort the afflicted and afflict the comfortable.”
Fiorito says it’s not about deciding between good and bad, but about the impact it will have.
“If we did not do difficult stories… that had impact we wouldn’t be doing our jobs,” Fiorito said.
He disagrees with Clare’s view about fear- mongering. He feels that a paper has space for all types of news.
“A newspaper is sort of like an intellectual supermarket,” Fiorito said. “There are lettuces, there are cleaning products; there’s meat. You can’t just sell one thing, you have to sell a variety of things.”
Ultimately Clare feels that media outlets are walking a fine line of journalism versus business.
“I think it’s more reflective of the actual capitalistic structure we have in place right now,” Clare said. “Which lends itself more to, if it sells it’s good.”
So what is thingsaregood selling?
“What you can do with vinegar. It gets us the most hits,” Clare said. “Vinegar is pretty wonderful. There are a lot of things people don’t realize.”