Is The Media Really Your Worst Enemy?

'Media is the most dangerous weapon. Don't trust it,' said a recent online post. They were right. But their theory has a flaw.

Here’s what their point was:



It is true. There are unfortunately only certain types of stories that make it to the news and most of it is pretty dark and dreary.

But here’s the flaw: The comparisons used in the phone above are also pretty lopsided. They have shown an extreme opposite of what conventional media outlets like CNN and CBS show. By doing so, they too are committing the same mistake and presenting one end of the spectrum.

Unfortunately, the nature of news cycles and peoples pre-conceived notions leave only the extreme ends of circumstances worthy of making the news. The middle ground is usually just mundane stuff, and there’s nothing more boring than what’s ordinary.

Who would be interested in learning about daily life in a city halfway across the globe? For media businesses, that’s not enough to bait an audience.

In the race to make money, newsworthiness often gets determined by stories that will bring more traffic.

And bad news sells.

Imagine surfing through television channels, and coming across a scene of a field with people working on it, one of people enjoying themselves in the snow and one with a building engulfed in flames. Which one will you stick to?

The very term "news" means something out of the ordinary or unusual. The fact that on a given morning the traffic in San Francisco is going about as per usual, people are going to work, dropping their children off to school is not worthy of being reported. However, if there is a car crash, a multiple pileup or a madman going on a shooting rampage and taking people hostage, that is news.

Gwen Sharp, an associate professor of sociology at Nevada State College, explained the phenomenon very well. The case study was Time magazine’s end-of-the-decade issue that summarizes what they considered major events between 2000 and 2010.

This was the cover:

creative magazine cover

Looking closely at the cover will prove that only bad news counts as news. Of the 118 stories that made the cover, only a small percentage were positive. It’s not as if nothing good happened during an entire decade, but in terms newsworthiness, it was only the negative stories that made the list.

The press shows stories that get to evoke an emotion out of people and that unfortunately in most cases is bad news. But by portraying the opposite what mainstream news shows to be life in another place, the user who posted the image on 9Gag has fallen into the same trap.

So is media your worst enemy? Only if you let it be. The kind of news that makes it to the top is just part of the game and the game is to make profit, succeed and be as popular as possible. There is news out there; really good news and the average everyday feel good news, too. It may not make headlines, but it is the truth as well.

Here are some great examples:

The Bus Transforms The Lives Of The Homeless With Dignity

A Coffee Shop That Has No Employees And Runs On Trust

Watch What Happens When Fast Food Workers Get A Huge Tip

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