WBUR’s Kind World series shows power of small acts of kindness

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When he started his job as a social media producer at WBUR, Nate Goldman had negative news fatigue. A lot of us have probably experienced it: the feeling that news stories are too heavy and make the world seem cold and callous.

Goldman saw stories about violence, crime and despair on news sites. But while on social networks, he came across different stories — about small acts of kindness people had experienced. Many people on Facebook, Twitter and Reddit were not only sharing these stories but having lively conversations about them.

“It signaled to me that there was a real appetite for that kind of stuff,” Goldman said by phone.

Inspired by what he saw, Goldman set out to create a series that would highlight how small acts of kindness can profoundly affect people’s lives.

He started asking people on social media to talk about their encounters with kindness. He got several responses, interviewed a few people, and then produced some audio pieces as a proof of concept. His editor, John Davidow, liked the idea and encouraged him to pursue it.

From there, Goldman created a “Kind World” Tumblr in July 2012. It has since gained a lot of attention from readers — so much so that WBUR created an accompanying on-air series, which just finished up last week. All of the Kind World stories set out to answer the same question: “What is it that makes someone stop and help a stranger in need?”

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Upworthy’s most popular stories show desire for uplifting, serious content

Research shows that people are increasingly sharing upbeat content on social networks. But “upbeat,” it turns out, doesn’t necessarily mean “happy-go-lucky” in the world of social media sharing.

Upworthy, a site that publishes uplifting content and generates millions of social shares, found that some of its most popular stories in 2013 were about heavy topics like economic inequality, domestic violence, global health and the media’s portrayal of women.

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Drawbacks of some upbeat stories that get shared, go viral

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Time Magazine’s Eliana Dockterman wrote in August:

Researchers are discovering that people want to create positive images of themselves online by sharing upbeat stories. And with more people turning to Facebook and Twitter to find out what’s happening in the world, news stories may need to cheer up in order to court an audience. If social is the future of media, then optimistic stories might be media’s future.

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Caroline Little, CEO CEO of the Newspaper Association of America (NAA), says despite what cynics say, the future of newspapers is bright. In an article published Friday, she shared some NAA research.