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Emma Duffy / Gavel Media

Why Is Media Always Negative?

It's no secret. Every day, the biggest news stories highlight tragedy, political corruption, and other unfortunate occurrences. This begs the question: Is all news bad, or do we just choose to focus on the negative?

According to a McGill University study, human beings have a natural proclivity towards bad news. When participants in the study were shown a news site, the articles to which they were drawn were largely those with negative reports. This, as psychologist Tom Stafford notes, is an example of “negativity bias,” which denotes the fact that more people are drawn to reading or hearing about tragedy than happiness.

This psychological desire to hear about bad news manifests itself in media outlets, which report largely negative happenings. In a particularly notable example, the Russian website The City Reporter posted strictly positive news for a day, and, in that single day, lost two-thirds of its regular readership.

Beyond the psychological rationale behind the constant influx of bad news, New York Magazine notes that continual exposure to negative news with significantly less exposure to good news produces a general sort of “malaise” among people, creating an increasingly negative view of the world around them.

However, there is good stuff happening in the world. According to the U.N., quality of life has actually increased astronomically around the globe in the past twenty years. So, despite a perception perpetuated by our fascination with negative news, a lot of things are getting better. While it would be illogical to argue that we should ignore bad news, as being aware of the problems in the world is a critical step in moving towards fixing them, I would argue that perhaps it would be beneficial to our outlook on life in general to break up the steady stream of negativity with a greater focus on positive news.

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