Posted by: Erin Stutesman | October 17, 2016

The Prevalence of Bad News

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In chapter three of Mediating the Message in the 21st Century, the authors discuss the pervasiveness of “bad” news in the media, such as crime and natural disasters. While reading, I thought about how I have noticed that monitoring the news can give me anxiety. For example, if I see a celebrity’s name trending on Facebook, often my first assumption is that something terrible has happened to that person.

I decided to conduct a simple experiment by scanning a couple of news sites to determine if their stories were “good” or “bad.” The lead story on Oregon Live focused on the storm this past weekend: “128 houses damaged, one-third of trees destroyed: Manzanita grateful, but long cleanup ahead,” while a less noticeable headline in the right sidebar states, “Portland streets open, safe after days of rain and wind.”

On CNN, I counted five main stories that if not inherently “bad,” would definitely fall into the stressful category—all focused on the election, specifically Trump’s misdeeds. Finally, after scanning a few other sources, I realized that I was unsure of what a “good” news headline would even state, until I finally found one, “Conjoined Twins Separated, Both out of Surgery.”

For those reading, do you feel that the constant stream of negative news impacts you? For instance, I personally feel fatigued by this election cycle- Any mention of either candidate wears me out, and when I realized that I would be unable to watch the next debate, I felt relieved.

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