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Woodbury man's website offers links to the bright side

Nic Ortiz thinks news consumers get more than their fill of what’s disturbing.

“The world is not as bad as you might think from watching the first 10 minutes of the news,” the Woodbury man said.

Ortiz knows a thing or two about the television news business. A longtime video photographer and editor for a Twin Cities network affiliate, Ortiz said his threshold for bad news was reached earlier this year during coverage of the Aaron Schaffhausen triple murder case from River Falls, Wis.

“It took its toll,” Ortiz said. “I wanted to do my part.”

He turned that frustration into a website he launched shortly after called On the Horizon News. The site focuses solely on news that highlights what Ortiz called “positive, uplifting stories.”

Ortiz said his site runs counter to what’s commonly featured on TV news, where he said positive stories are relegated to the tail end of newscasts.

“It’s not about being naïve,” said Ortiz, who ran for Woodbury City Council in 2010. “It’s not about looking at the world with blinders on.”

The site features things like volunteers making a difference, tales of survival and families being reunited.

“Regular people answer the call to action without batting an eye,” Ortiz said. “That’s what I think we need a lot more of.”

He’s well aware that the concept of a good-news website can generate eye-rolls from some people. He said newsies at the station where he works have snickered at the idea because of what Ortiz called the “good news stigma.”

“But,” he said, “there’s a place for it.”

On the Horizon News stories are culled from news organizations around the world. Ortiz summarizes the stories on his site and provides a link to the original news story.

He describes his site as a curated one, versus aggregator sites that robo-troll for stories that fit specific search criteria.

“We’re not automatically sucking stuff into the site,” Ortiz said. “We’re looking for it, hand-picking, having discussions.”

He and a small team of news hunters that includes his wife, Allison, dedicates several hours a day to pounding the Internet in search of stories to populate his site. The site is updated daily and includes a section that encourages readers to share photos that make them feel good.

Ortiz admits the early going has been a bit slow, but said traffic has been picking up, thanks to social media. The site now sees page views from readers around the globe, including Israel, Russia and Japan, Ortiz noted.

For now, On the Horizon News is strictly a side project for Ortiz while he continues to work in the news business.

He said his dream would be for the site to attract enough advertisers that he could turn it into a full-time job, “but that’s not the focus right now.”

For now, he’s banking on the notion that more people will be hoping to look on the bright side. “Give it a shot,” Ortiz said. “Good news is contagious.”

Mike Longaecker

Mike Longaecker is the regional public safety reporter for RiverTown Multimedia. His coverage area spans St. Croix and Pierce counties. Longaecker served from 2011-2015 as editor of the Woodbury Bulletin. A University of Wisconsin-River Falls graduate, Longaecker previously reported for the Red Wing Republican Eagle and for the Forum Communications Minnesota Capitol Bureau. You can follow him on Twitter at @Longaecker

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