Why do the media focus on bad news?


Why do newspapers and journalists gravitate towards bad news? This is a question I have pondered a lot. It is also a question that comes up amongst my students. And a comment on my blog yesterday from Dennis Jones…

So, we ask, is this a common occurrence but not much reported, especially with evidence, or is it a rarity? Do the media focus on negative not positive stories?

It seems social media was happy with the Gleaner’s cover page yesterday, which celebrated a young man who saved a boy’s life. The boy was nearly washed away in a swollen gully. The young man has now been offered a job.

Amidst so much horrifying news, both locally and internationally, people are thirsting for good news. So why does the media rarely publish good news stories, at least in the perception of readers?

Bad news alerts people to things that should be fixed or changed. Bad news shows people what could be improved upon. Bad news tends to try to hold people accountable and to demand change. At least this is my theory. More simply, people gravitate to sensational news. They are voyeurs and the news caters to that. Those are some quick thoughts on a morning I am headed off to teach said students.

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