Google Assistant will now find you ‘good news’

August 21, 2018

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There’s a lot of bad news these days, from ongoing Russian election hacking to climate change to poisoned food to trade wars. To combat the perception that we’re marching toward the Apocalypse, news publishers are running dedicated “good news” sections or newsletters to counter all the depressing stuff.

Now, Google is doing a version of this. As an experiment only in the US, Google Assistant will respond to a request to “Tell me something good” by providing stories from the Solutions Journalism Network, which compiles positive stories from a range of media publishers and outlets. It requires the customary “OK, Google” or “Hey Google.”

It’s intended to work on any device equipped with Google Assistant. According to Google’s blog post:

The stories come from a wide range of media outlets, curated and summarized by the Solutions Journalism Network. They’re a nonpartisan nonprofit dedicated to spreading the practice of solutions journalism, which highlights how problems are solvable and that doing better is possible. Solutions journalism empowers and energizes audiences, helping to combat negative news fatigue. It’s an important part of a balanced news diet, so we’re exploring how to incorporate more solutions journalism wherever you access Google News.

Trying it this morning on Google Home and Pixel phone, it worked unevenly. It delivered when I said, “OK, Google tell me something good,” but not for the phrase “tell me some good news.” In the latter case, it provided a more conventional search result on the Pixel and said “Sorry, I don’t understand” on Home. But I’m sure Google will fix that quickly.


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