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The media exaggerates negative news. This distortion has consequences

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posted on Nov, 22 2018 @ 12:16 PM
The media exaggerates negative news. This distortion has consequences! ... says Steven Pinker from The Guardian.

very day the news is filled with stories about war, terrorism, crime, pollution, inequality, drug abuse and oppression. And it’s not just the headlines we’re talking about; it’s the op-eds and long-form stories as well. Magazine covers warn us of coming anarchies, plagues, epidemics, collapses, and so many “crises” (farm, health, retirement, welfare, energy, deficit) that copywriters have had to escalate to the redundant “serious crisis.”

Whether or not the world really is getting worse, the nature of news will interact with the nature of cognition to make us think that it is.

When even the news media itself recognizes the ill effects of its actions isnt it time to star taking it seriously?

And we dont have to take the word of a columnist for it; the data also back up this fact.

The data scientist Kalev Leetaru applied a technique called sentiment mining to every article published in the New York Times between 1945 and 2005, and to an archive of translated articles and broadcasts from 130 countries between 1979 and 2010. Sentiment mining assesses the emotional tone of a text by tallying the number and contexts of words with positive and negative connotations, like good, nice, terrible, and horrific.

Putting aside the wiggles and waves that reflect the crises of the day, we see that the impression that the news has become more negative over time is real. The New York Times got steadily more morose from the early 1960s to the early 1970s, lightened up a bit (but just a bit) in the 1980s and 1990s, and then sank into a progressively worse mood in the first decade of the new century. News outlets in the rest of the world, too, became gloomier and gloomier from the late 1970s to the present day.

When did the news media start to go down this destructive path?

Bornstein and Rosenberg don’t blame the usual culprits (cable TV, social media, late-night comedians) but instead trace it to the shift during the Vietnam and Watergate eras from glorifying leaders to checking their power—with an overshoot toward indiscriminate cynicism, in which everything about America’s civic actors invites an aggressive takedown.

It’s easy to see how the Availability heuristic, stoked by the news policy “If it bleeds, it leads,” could induce a sense of gloom about the state of the world. Media scholars who tally news stories of different kinds, or present editors with a menu of possible stories and see which they pick and how they display them, have confirmed that the gatekeepers prefer negative to positive coverage, holding the events constant.

And what are the consequences of the news media's midea misdeeds? It causes the rest of us to disconnect from reality and so unable to make proper decisions about our lives and our countries.

The consequences of negative news are themselves negative. Far from being better informed, heavy newswatchers can become miscalibrated. They worry more about crime, even when rates are falling, and sometimes they part company with reality altogether: a 2016 poll found that a large majority of Americans follow news about Isis closely, and 77% agreed that “Islamic militants operating in Syria and Iraq pose a serious threat to the existence or survival of the United States,” a belief that is nothing short of delusional.

These last few years have been particularly bad but it's been building up for a long time now. Given these facts is it really all that inappropriate to call the News Media the enemy of the people? .... they certainly aren't acting like our allies.

Sure Donald Trump uses this reality to his advantage in attacking all negative news about him (even ligitamate news) but his use of the issue doesn't dismiss how important it is and how it is truly affecting the world. Trump will be gone in a few years, a misleading news media will last a lot longer than that.

posted on Nov, 22 2018 @ 12:26 PM
a reply to: DanDanDat

Part of the dilemma may be related to the struggle that media outlets, especially news, have been experiencing with the rise of online platforms over the past decades.

It would be surprising if journalism would be completely unaffected by the constant threat of losing audiences and viewers. But even after the transition from paper to online, clicks and views are marginal income compared to the golden era of traditional media companies. So they have to fight... and apocalyptic headlines tend to sell better.

This is of course just one aspect of a more complex situation, but I thought it's worth mentioning in this context.

posted on Nov, 22 2018 @ 12:45 PM
a reply to: DanDanDat

Good article Dan. Informative and not new to many here. What this article offers is that the bias is not so much just against one political party but rather an almost inbred aspect of mass communications.

The author, Steven Pinker, is not so much a columnist but rather a well known cognitive psychologist and a strong voice in the world of consciousnesses studies.

posted on Nov, 22 2018 @ 12:52 PM
I have seen the light......Jeeezus H. Christ, I have seen the light! The media is negative!

posted on Nov, 22 2018 @ 01:28 PM
The negative media is ruining peoples happiness in their daily lives.

posted on Nov, 22 2018 @ 02:25 PM
That the media exaggerates anything bad that happens is obviously not a surprise. What's a little less obvious is that it depends on which news you're watching. Liberal outlets tend to blow things like mass shootings out of proportion. Conservative ones tend to blow things like illegal immigration out of proportion.

At any rate, the majority of the MSM just glosses over reality and goes for their pet projects. There are millions of issues that never even get mentioned in the media and they just harp on mass shootings and things like that for years on end. A mass shooting is kind of like a multi-car pileup on a freeway. It sucks if you're in it but it's not really that big a deal in the grand scheme of things.

They will almost never come on the news and tell you that you're probably safer than you've ever been from violent crime. I'll soon be 46 and when I was 15 I was in more danger every day than most 15 year olds walking around now. When was the last time you heard that on the news?

posted on Nov, 22 2018 @ 04:03 PM
The 80's were depressing with everyone worried about "The paperless office", "The IT revolution" and "The Coming of the Chip", We did have a recession back around 1991. That was truly depressing. The Sunday evening news would have "job losses and gains". They would have a map of the UK, and every company that was laying off hundreds, thousands or tens of thousands of people would be indicated by a little earthquake ripple of three red circles at that location. Similarly job gains would be blue circles. The public didn't get access to the Internet until around 1993, and that was mostly IT people. Around mid 1990's cheap commodity PC's became available.

I used to live in both France and the UK. Living in the UK, the news reports were always about the threat of terrorism, how Iraq could strike up with WMD at any point in time using super guns or chemical weapons, the threat of home grown terrorists. Move to France and there was none of those news channels with loud trumpeting music and three word headlines that fill up the quarter of the screen in primary colours repeated every hour.

posted on Nov, 22 2018 @ 04:30 PM
Media is a business. The business is to sell ads so people will watch the programming.

If you are unhappy with programming, stop being a crybaby and write your own shows. Like Alex Jones did...

This will get you started....join us and end the whine festival.

eta....if you want to influence the media...don't buy the things advertised on TV. that'll show em.
edit on 22-11-2018 by olaru12 because: (no reason given)

posted on Nov, 22 2018 @ 05:37 PM
a reply to: DanDanDat

There is an old saying in the news biz, it goes something like this.

If it bleeds it leads and if it thinks it stinks.

posted on Nov, 22 2018 @ 07:12 PM
a reply to: olaru12

That is actually very sound advice.

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