Some people avoid reading and watching the news because they claim it is depressing, boring or inflammatory.
They see the nightly news as nothing more than a show designed around ratings instead of a respectable report giving important information.
According to them, the good news is never talked about, and the bad is always blown out of proportion.
There seems to be some sort of righteous contempt for mass communicators—even though society as we know it would not function without them.
Well, the naysayers truly do have a point. It’s an uncontested fact that bad news sells. But calling all of mass media bad is throwing the baby out with the bathwater.
In a survey done by the Pew Research Center, 20 years of American media consumption was analyzed to determine the most read topics.
War, weather, disaster, money and crime.
In another study, this one done at McGill University in Canada, researchers tracked which political articles test subjects chose to read.
The researchers found most subjects chose negative articles, even when the subjects claimed to prefer good news. People who had a greater interest in current events seemed to pick the most negative articles.
People like to talk about unfortunate happenings more than they like to talk about pleasant ones. It’s not that good news is never talked about; people just remember bad news longer and like to discuss it with people.
This is just like how people complain about their problems more than they talk about their blessings. It’s not some horrible agenda, and it’s not something the media should be solely blamed for; it’s unfortunately just a depressing human trait.
As fallen beings, we are intrigued by evil. This is why Paul reminded the Corinthians that love “Rejoiceth not in iniquity; but rejoiceth in truth.” (1 Cor 13:6)
Especially in this political season, we’ve been hearing a lot about the importance of keeping up with current events. Educated voting is a legitimate reason to keep up with the news. But even beyond our duty as voters, we should keep up with current events in order to be useful, interesting members of our society.
Coming from the editorial staff (composed mostly of journalism majors), the call to read and watch more news may seem a little self-promoting. But the truth is, it’s hard to be a part of a community you do not keep up with.
Furthermore, avoiding bad news does not make it any less real. The way to effect change is to recognize bad news for its reality and do something to improve it—not turn a blind eye because it makes you feel uncomfortable.
So don’t avoid news just because it’s “all bad.” Maybe instead, do what you can to change some of that and give them something nice to report on. The reporter will probably thank you too.