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From AJR,   November 1999  issue

It's All Good   


By Tricia Eller
Tricia Eller is a former AJR editorial assistant.     

It's been a hard day. You were passed over for that big promotion, your kid lost his retainer, your dog bit the mail carrier whose brother's a lawyer. What you could really use is a pick-me-up, a little reminder that the sun is shining somewhere and all will be well. So where do you turn? Well, to the news, of course.

How about some "positive news stories..for a change?" That's the slogan fueling Geraldine Weis-Corbley's Good News Network Web site (a href="http://www.goodnewsnetwork.org">www.goodnewsnetwork.org) and the only thing you'll find in her pages.

"If it's good deeds, it leads," she says of the articles on her 2-year-old clearinghouse for feel-good stories. Categories cover local to national news, and the only criterion for a story's inclusion is that it be one "with little or no controversy."

Citing a "constant barrage" of negative stories, Weis-Corbley, 40, says journalists of the '90s have "for the most part failed" in their mission to inform people. "The reporting of today actually creates a false impression of what's real by focusing on a fraction of the truth instead of the whole truth."

The truth for Weis-Corbley includes stories she's published, such as the one about a group of teenagers cycling across America to raise money to build homes for the needy, or a businessman selling his corporation for $422 million and splitting $128 million of it among his employees.

Weis-Corbley says she spent nine years working in TV news, shooting footage in Washington, D.C., and the experience soured her perception of the media. She quit the news business in 1990 to start a family, nurturing a plan to develop the Good News Network. Three children later, in late August 1997, Weis-Corbley dove in full force, buying software and teaching herself how to lay out a Web page to get the site going.

"One of my goals is to show that there is actually a hungry market that will pay for this," she says. The 35,000 monthly hits she gets on her site act as pretty heavy validation of a demand, but Weis-Corbley, who runs the site out of her home in Lake Jackson, Virginia, posts no advertising and makes no profit. She calls the project "moderately costly," without revealing specific figures.

The priciest venture for Weis-Corbley is the eight-page newsletter, Some Good News!, which she launched in November 1997. Weis-Corbley prints 200 copies of her bimonthly digest and distributes them to prisons and homeless shelters. Fewer than 100 subscribers pay the $25 yearly rate, helping only to defray the costs of printing and distribution. The newsletter is sent to readers in 15 states and three countries.

Weis-Corbley writes most of the stories, which she culls from various sources, including items sent to her by people who know her work, or from the American News Service, a Vermont-based wire that focuses on solution-based news.

She also subscribes to the GNN philosophy in her daily life, she says, always searching out the good in situations and turning to yoga, meditation and spirituality for support in her mission.

Foreseeing "a television show in the future" and growth for her Web site, Weis-Corbley is the eternal optimist. "The Good News Network idea can just go and go," she says, "until it's really become a revolution."