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Why You Should Stay Away From Negative News

Why You Should Stay Away From Negative News

Have you ever noticed that majority of news/media companies focuses on negative topics? Death, rape, murder, robbery, violent crime, hate crimes, economic downturn, etc.? There is a reason why these news stories are always the headlines. It's because they get a reaction from readers. Facebook whistleblower Frances Haugen revealed, among other things, that the Facebook algorithm promoted news stories & posts that made people angry or sad because it increased user engagement.

 

 

Facebook is the company researchers & investigators decided to focus on, but it's not just Facebook. There's so much conversation about the adverse effects that social media have on users; meanwhile, the news industry has slid under the radar. Large media companies such as Fox, NBC, ABC News Week, you name it, have figured out that negative news stories get more readers to engage with their articles. They knew this before Facebook ever existed, but who will report this news? The media companies? After all, media companies are businesses, and they depend on readers/viewers' engagement to increase their possible advertisement revenue, so they will not report something that will have an adverse effect, which is why news is seemingly negative. It's more about profits than anything else.

 

 

Examples of How Negative News Compound

 

A week before a young African American man was shot and killed by police, the news feed from Google and Bing displayed the typical crime highlights and other stories. After police murdered a young African American man, multiple reports focused on African Americans' injustice, racial assault, and more shootings. The same thing occurred when a police officer was shot and killed in Harlem, NY. Media started reporting more stories about police being shot. When Asian Americans are attacked, more stories about Asian American attacks are written. Bing news would report who had the coronavirus during the pandemic every other day. Is it really news? Does the public need to know every celebrity that has been diagnosed with Covid-19?

 

 

"This can create a feedback loop, where the world as it exists outside of your window is made to seem scarier by the world that lives on the internet." - The Outline

 

The problem isn't that the news industry reports negative news, but the compound of negative information can affect our mental health and make us believe that the world is scarier than it really is. If we're constantly consuming news that makes us angry or depressed, we will start to become angry or depressed individuals all the while news/media companies are profiting off of it.

 

 

 

The Age of Misinformation

Fake News

 

During the 80's - 90's Crack Epidemic, news reporters from some of the largest companies were reporting false news. During that era, reports stated that an estimated 60 - 65% of newborn babies will have have crack cocaine in their system. These reports are where the term "Crack Babies" started becoming popular. The real number of babies that have been found to have crack cocaine in their system was actually just 2%. It's one example of misinformation that targeted and affected Black Americans more than anyone because it made the public believe they were all drug addicts, and the reports were completely false. You can actually still read 1989 articles written by the Washington Post with damaging titles such as "Children of Cocaine" and "Crack Babies The Worst Threat Is Mom Herself".

Now more than ever, we live in times where false information is presented as truth. According to Axios, a reliable source of information, less than half of Americans trust media companies, which as the article states, is a new low. Below are few examples how we got here.

 

 

Russia

Russia's interference with the U.S election played a major part in America's misinformation crisis. Russia intentionally created false news articles and spread lies about Republicans, Democrats, Black Lives Matter, and information about the presidential candidates that Americans took as a real news story.

 

 

Donald Trump

Ex-President Donald Trump did not help the situation when he started labeling all negative news stories about him as being "fake news." Fake news became a popular phrase that Trump's loyal followers began to use as a defense mechanism.

 

 

Covid-19

The Covid-19 pandemic of 2019 exacerbated the problem. Americans started believing in fake articles about treating the virus using various ridiculous methods.

 

 

Negative News Headline Examples

 

There's misinformation on the local level by media companies as well. For example, New York Mayor Eric Adams created a rule that government employees must get vaccinated to work. When employees refused to get vaccinated, they were officially out of a job. Here's how to different media companies reported this news.

 

New York Post headline "Mayor Adams Fires 1,430 Workers

 

New York Times headline "NYC Fires 1,430 Workers".

 

New York Post headline makes the Mayor of the city the main subject, whereas New York Times makes New York City the main subject. The first headline blames the Mayor whereas the second blames the city for the 1,430 fired workers. For the readers who find this news upsetting, New York Post headline makes them upset at the Mayor, whereas New York Times headline makes them upset at the city.

 A simple word change in the title can affect the reader's perception.

 

Another example of a deceptive headline was created by NBC New York "Noted 87-Year Old Voice Coach Dies Days After Random NYC Street Ambushed by Woman". If you click to read the article, you'd find out the headline is a bit deceiving. There was no ambush; the 87-year old woman was shoved by the suspect. There's a big difference between the words "ambushed" and "shoved." Choice of words matters.

 

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