- Insurgents wore U.S. military uniforms
- Marine killed last month predicted death
- Syrian novelist pens 100 days of horror
- Film ‘makes me sick’.
- Zakaria on Egypt protests
- U.S. mission attacks
- Benghazi casualties
- Teachers strike
- American Idol
- Kate Middleton
- ‘Pink slime’
- ANTI-AMERICAN PROTESTS
- Police fend off protesters in Pakistan
- Hezbollah calls for new film protests
- Violence eases but tensions still high
- Opinion: The reality of Islamaphobia
- Egypt’s PM: Some got paid to protest
- Ambassador’s last moments
- Opinion: Don’t blame coptic Christians
- Anti-Islam filmmaker questioned
- Bloody handprints on embassy wall
Yesterday was no particularly terrible day in the world. It was just some ordinary Sunday.
But is there any way the authors of these headlines could have made them any more terrifying? Every day is like this in the news.
How could you not be effected by this endless onslaught of terrible stories?
Most of my friends are liberals. They favor social causes. They follow the latest natural disasters in the world. The housing crisis. The world economy. The latest droughts. The latest forest fires. They are also highly pessimistic on the future of the world. How could they not be?
I can’t comment on conservatives because I don’t know many and what their reading habits are. It does, however, seem that people like the Tea Party have their own set of nihilistic visions of the world. They seem very upset about the current debt crisis in America. It would be likely that they are getting fed their news headlines by the Republican party.
Johan Galtung and Marie Holmboe Ruge conducted a survey in 1965 on the values of the news… what got covered. They arrived at a list of Conditions that consistently are met to make newsworthiness.
- Frequency: Events that occur suddenly and fit well with the news organization’s schedule are more likely to be reported than those that occur gradually or at inconvenient times of day or night. Long-term trends are not likely to receive much coverage.
- Negativity: Bad news is more newsworthy than good news.
- Unexpectedness: If an event is out of the ordinary it will have a greater effect than something that is an everyday occurrence.
- Unambiguity: Events whose implications are clear make for better copy than those that are open to more than one interpretation, or where any understanding of the implications depends on first understanding the complex background in which the events take place.
- Personalization: Events that can be portrayed as the actions of individuals will be more attractive than one in which there is no such “human interest.”
- Meaningfulness: This relates to the sense of identification the audience has with the topic. “Cultural proximity” is a factor here — stories concerned with people who speak the same language, look the same, and share the preoccupations as the audience receive more coverage than those concerned with people who speak different languages, look different and have different preoccupations.
- Reference to elite nations: Stories concerned with global powers receive more attention than those concerned with less influential nations.
- Reference to elite persons: Stories concerned with the rich, powerful, famous and infamous get more coverage.
- Conflict: Opposition of people or forces resulting in a dramatic effect. Stories with conflict are often quite newsworthy.
- Consonance: Stories that fit with the media’s expectations receive more coverage than those that defy them (and for which they are thus unprepared). Note this appears to conflict with unexpectedness above. However, consonance really refers to the media’s readiness to report an item.
- Continuity: A story that is already in the news gathers a kind of inertia. This is partly because the media organizations are already in place to report the story, and partly because previous reportage may have made the story more accessible to the public (making it less ambiguous).
- Composition: Stories must compete with one another for space in the media. For instance, editors may seek to provide a balance of different types of coverage, so that if there is an excess of foreign news for instance, the least important foreign story may have to make way for an item concerned with the domestic news. In this way the prominence given to a story depends not only on its own news values but also on those of competing stories. (Galtung and Ruge, 1965)
- Competition: Commercial or professional competition between media may lead journalists to endorse the news value given to a story by a rival.
- Co-optation: A story that is only marginally newsworthy in its own right may be covered if it is related to a major running story.
- Prefabrication: A story that is marginal in news terms but written and available may be selected ahead of a much more newsworthy story that must be researched and written from the ground up.
- Predictability: An event is more likely to be covered if it has been pre-scheduled.
- Time constraints: Traditional news media such as radio, television and daily newspapers have strict deadlines and a short production cycle, which selects for items that can be researched and covered quickly.
- Logistics: Although eased by the availability of global communications even from remote regions, the ability to deploy and control production and reporting staff, and functionality of technical resources can determine whether a story is covered. (Schlesinger, 1987)
I wanted to put all of these conditions here so you can see why you are getting the stories fed to you that you do.
Besides being negative, criteria that makes the news include things that happen suddenly and are unusual. And unambiguity. That’s the one that I think is so important today for online news. Something that is crystal clear. Something that reads well in a few words.
If it’s too complicated it isn’t going to be a big headline.
I suspect that being negative is not a major focus for reporters. But when you look at the other criteria I think negative stories more easily fit the bill. Something that is easy to understand and is unusual is typically negative.
Turning lead into gold would be a great headline. But that kind of thing doesn’t easily happen.
Here’s a not so catchy headline (From here: Ozone layer – Wikipedia)
On August 2, 2003, scientists announced that the depletion of the ozone layer may be slowing down due to the international ban on CFCs.
What kind of headline is that? “Ozone layer may be slowing down due to the international ban on CFCs.”
I’m pretty sure it made the news that day. But it’s long, drawn out and boring. It’s nothing as good as “Ice caps melting.”
I think it’s very likely negative stories hit us in our Amygdala part of the brain. It’s the oldest part of our brain that causes us to react in an automatic flight or fight kind of way. It’s sometimes called our lizard brain. The Amygdala performs a primary role in the processing of memory and emotional reactions Those are very powerful feelings for us that cause a jarring reaction within us.
Insurgents wore U.S. military uniforms does that to our brain.
The point of all this is this: the media and politicians have this scientifically studied. Using things like the Galtung and Ruge News Value Conditions they know what kind of stories are going to make you feel something. And they are going to give them to you over and over again.
But this has consequences on your life. The news becomes a stress in your life. It weighs on you. It effects you. It changes your perception of the world.
The world becomes a frightening and terrible place. People carry guns to protect themselves in bedroom communities.
“We are not safe.”
You must understand that this is fabricated. The media and politicians do this to us to get viewers and to get votes.
If the 6:00 news came on and said, “There’s not really anything important going on today,” you would stop watching. So they make things up. They fabricate stories that scare the shit out of you so you will watch.
Politicians do the same thing. They tell you how bad the world will be if you elect the other person. They are the only way to salvation and hope. The other way is a movement towards despair and failure.
But this just in:
There will not be a double dip recession because that is defined as one or two quarters of growth followed by another recession.
It becomes almost astounding that the media and the politicians can make it sound as bad as they do.
I know some of you are craving to tell me how wrong I am here. That things are terrible. Things are spiraling out of control. But don’t bother. I’ve heard it all before and I don’t need to hear it again.
I am trying to run a business. And I’m trying to raise a child.
I can’t do either very well with people constantly trying tell me how terrible America is doing.
I don’t believe it is true. And I’m done listening to it.
My suggestions is you should stop listening to it too.