Good News, Good Times p. 14

By: M.L. STEIN COLLECT A SLEW of upbeat stories a newspaper prints in a year and you have Good Times, a new section published by the West County Times in Richmond, Calif.
The 12-page broadsheet insert is designed to blunt the criticism of readers who say newspapers print nothing but bad news, said managing editor Anthony Marquez.
"We decided to do something about this impression," Marquez went on. "We gave them a full section of nothing but good news."
The year-end review, published Dec. 31, showcased several "positive" stories that appeared in 1995. The front-page banner line read: "Positively The Best." The best included stories about a vocational program that enables at-risk juveniles to learn carpentry, a school district's hiring of "conflict resolution specialists" to teach students to negotiate campus conflicts, parishioners who pitched in to rebuild their burned-out church, and a nine-year-old girl who devotes hours to cheering up elderly patients at a physical care center.
There was also a piece about a gang member who, after being wounded in a drive-by shooting, quit his gang and founded a club to take youngsters off the street by providing recreational activities for them such as swimming, basketball, pool and pizza parties.
Several of the stories had sidebar updates on developments since they were first published.
The section carried several advertisements, including a full-page ad by Chevron.
A Q&A column, "Talk of the Times," asked residents what they like best about living in West County.
During the year, Good Times, a member of Northern California's Contra Costa Newspapers Inc. (CCN), which was recently acquired by Knight-Ridder, tags its good news stories with a drawing of a "Good News" puppy, a copy of the Times in his jaws.
Reader reaction?
"Those who called in or wrote to us were very pleased about Good Times," Marquez recalled. "But I had thought there would be more of them."
Nevertheless, he continued, "The Good Times section dispels the myth that newspapers print nothing but bad news. That's the good news."


No comments on this item Please log in to comment by clicking here