Originally created 09/13/98

Hot spots on the net



THE SITE: The Good News Network

THE ADDRESS: www.goodnewsnetwork.org

THE REASON: It's always darkest before you turn on the light.

The stock market's experiencing major convulsions. Russia is again on the brink of catastrophe. And the president? Well, we all know more than we'd care to about his problems. Hasn't anything good happened lately?

Take heart, America.

A year ago, during the glory days of the bull market, Geraldine Weis-Corbley foresaw the need for an antidote to times like these. Her response: The Good News Network, a place on the Web where you can go every day to renew your faith in the human race.

Since its Webut a year ago, GNN has been steadily finding an audience. For Weis-Corbley, an at-home-working-mom who'd previously worked in TV news production, GNN is the fulfillment of an idea she's had for about 15 years: offering true stories with a positive slant about real people -- the kind often pushed aside in most news outlets by the daily toll of awful events in the world. "I felt that this was my intended path in life," she said recently.

A feature called Inspiration Point, for example, offers a story about a highly unusual CEO as a balm for some of the bitterness produced by the recent labor disputes at GM and Northwest Airlines. Called "Sage in Toyland," it originally appeared in The Washington Post and tells about Betty James, CEO of James Industries, maker of the famous Slinky toys. When her husband, Richard, the company's founder, took up with a religious cult and gave them much of his money, he left Betty with six kids, a pile of debts and a bankrupt company.

In four years, she managed to make the company profitable again without taking any steps that would harm her employees. And she refused to pass her losses along to her customers. In 1945, a Slinky cost $1; now, it costs less than $2.

"My theory," she says in the story, "is if it's a child's toy, make it affordable."

Visitors to GNN can select news from categories including Global, National, Local, Business and Life. There's an opinion section and one devoted to Good Samaritans. Visitors also are encouraged to pass along their own good news. A brief primer instructs them how to write a good -- as in well-written -- news story.

Of course there are those pessimists among us who may be inclined to accuse founder Weis-Corbley of overreaching. Take her spin on President Clinton's recent foibles: "The good news about the personal investigations of the president is that we are holding our public officials more accountable than ever. Now let us hold ourselves just as accountable in our everyday lives."