Why are we so obsessed with the bad news?

I don’t often read newspapers. These days I find that the BBC news and the Guardian newspaper websites give me as much as I need. They also have the advantage that I can explore a topic in a little more depth if I want to.

One reason I don’t read papers is that they always seem to feel they have to take a negative slant on every story. If the story isn’t shocking, they’ll find a way of making it so.

Of course, there’s the Positive News paper but that’s the rare exception.

So why are we so obsessed with the ‘bad news’?

There’s a conspiracy theory that says that the reason for this is that journalists’ paymasters have a vested interest in spreading fear. Whether that’s the case or not, surely the opportunity to shift the balance lies with us?

I’m not suggesting that we shouldn’t take an interest in all that’s going on around us, but let’s get a little more balance in the media.

Best wishes

UPDATE 15/08/14 – I am obviously not the only one to observe this phenomenon. Simon Jenkins also wrote about it in the Guardian in September 2009. While I believe that the overall coverage needs to be examined, and adjusted for a far more balanced coverage, there’s a specific aspect that I feel has serious economic consequences.

There seems a perverse pleasure in making people out to be victims and to pathologise aspects of normal life. On today’s BBC magazine pages, where more in-depth coverage is given to supposedly significant aspects of the news, there’s a long piece pathologising people who don’t have children and making them out to be so psychologically deprived as victims (“The parents without children“). This is typical of a genre of bad news that seeks to find victims and expose their sufffering. This week, we also heard that Robin Williams had committed suicide. A tragic loss, but the media band couldn’t stick to this – they immediately sort to make him out to be ‘selfish’ because of the wife and children, portrayed as ‘victims’, that he had left behind.

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