There’s plenty of bad things happening in the world and it seems like we’re often lurching from one tragedy to the next, or trying to take in simultaneous horrors all over the world.
It can feel like journalism and news media revels in communicating the most depressing details of every tragedy. Whether this is driven by a need to fill airtime on 24-hour news channels with live coverage of unfolding events, a rush for ratings or awards, or to fulfil our psychological need for bad news, it’s no exaggeration to say that negative journalism is having an impact on society.
Negative journalism perpetuates stereotypes of individuals, groups and entire communities, whether its harming the job prospects of young people, demonising people on benefits or contributing to anti-immigrant political rhetoric. News journalism has been used by politicians to “bury bad news” among even worse news and by police to insinuate complicity in tragedies.
Bad news is also bad for our health. Studies show that exposure to a typical news story results in a drop in mood in most people – up to 38% in women and 20% in men.