We believe that Dan Neil is confusing news and entertainment ("It's All Good," 800 Words, Jan. 8). Good news about projects that help make the world better has real value. But our friends and family find that most news, written or televised, focuses on tragedies and evildoing. They often feel hopeless and helpless about the future of our world. In truth, there are countless organizations and people who are doing good work to make the world a better place.
When Neil says, "Actually, good news is kind of dangerous . . . it ratifies complacency . . . [and] is essentially reactionary," he is confusing good news with false propaganda. We applaud HappyNews.com publisher Byron Reese's credo and agree that "virtue, goodwill and heroism are hot news."
Elizabeth and Charles M. Armstrong
I read the news, both good and bad. Bad things happen, but one can be optimistic that things will get better. It can even be a motivation for people to get out of their insulated existence and cause some positive change. The role of news is to inform a reader of what is going on in the world. Let the reader assign the label good or bad. I can walk out my door and see good, but that does not inform me of the rest of the city, country or world.
How can people be informed if they censor the input to their brains? How do they possibly go through a day and not realize that they are looking through rose-colored glasses? Yes, sometimes it seems that there is a preponderance of bad news in the papers. But this, at least to an optimist, is based on the assumption that people know good things happen more frequently and therefore are not necessarily news. Life is not always a smiley face, but if that works for Reese and the followers of his website, that's his good news. As for me, I want to be fully informed, and Neil's comments are right on point.