Why should we want to see more good news?

goodnewsmedia_TNAt St Mary’s we are all incredibly well-informed and this is clear when, in House, as we take a break from our lessons and preps, a common topic amongst the girls is current affairs. Recently, news which really got people talking is the idea that the world would supposedly end on 23rd September, which, as we can see, did not actually happen; it was in fact just another conspiracy theory. It generated immense energy nonetheless, which one could argue is certainly not a bad thing. At school, the subject of current affairs opens up debates among the girls which can get rather heated. It does seem however, that the majority of the content in the news, especially at the moment, is negative. Disaster news takes over the television screens, the Facebook and Twitter news feeds and the newspapers; it is the number one category in the news interest index. However, it is becoming apparent through extensive studies that overexposure is taking a detrimental toll on our mindsets.

It is noticeable that there is a distinct lack of good news, and that the majority of news covered is ‘bad’ news. The question seems to be, why is there not more good news in the press? Well, according to data from the Pew Research Center, 62% of Americans source news on social media outlets such as Twitter and Facebook. This has increased by 13% since 2013. Further, it appears that disaster, economic, and war stories rank the highest in user interest. Clearly, these hold the largest followings and so it only makes sense for publications to focus on these stories.

Furthermore, studies have shown that the intensity of news in the media impacts the reader in a destructive way, especially when the main aspects of the news at the moment are not at all positive. A study of particular interest is from the University of Maryland, where they found that, ‘non-verbal information, such as images of war, disaster, and civil mayhem change the way that viewers process information.’ According to the study, as the viewer, we block out the actual content of the news and focus on images and sounds. The reason that we take note of the news is to gain information on a broad range of topics, but if the effect on us is negative, then surely nothing is achieved? To suggest that to fix this we should simply not include bad news would be naive and absurd. We do need to keep informed about everything that goes on in our societies, especially worldwide. To eradicate this aspect of the media would create ignorant and uninformed societies.

Instead, what I believe could be a solution, and what many others have suggested, is that positive stories are also fed through the media in order to balance out the negativity which inundates the news. It is important to read good news, because in the same way that bad news changes our moods and outlooks, so does positivity. Stories about inspiring human activities have been proven to increase trust and hope, as well as to inspire.

On a personal level, I feel very strongly about this. A group of us in the UVI Form recently held a charity fundraising event in aid of ‘Help4Refugees’. Whilst it was a fun and incredibly valuable experience for us, the reason we organised it was because we had been informed – although not via a traditional ‘news outlet’. I do not feel that news needs to come straight from the usual sources; inspiration to do good comes from people – and people are everywhere! We were inspired when Jordan Hattar, the founder of ‘Help4Refugees’, came to our school and gave us a lecture about the work he has been doing in Syria and Jordan. His passion and outright humility is the reason we decided to organise the fundraising event for him. In my opinion, it is vital that, whilst we do work hard, we also engage in these types of activities which focus on the positivity and goodwill of people to help others. If the studies are anything to go by, then it is only going to improve our productivity by having such positive messages and influences in our lives. I understand the importance of all news – both positive and negative – and I am by no means attempting to dispute the fact that we need to be informed in the way we currently are. As a society, we are incredibly lucky to be so well-informed by the media. I also understand that there is only so much news that can be produced daily. I would, personally, like to see an increase in ‘positive’ news because I believe that it would have a beneficial influence on not only the way we discuss and debate, but also on our mentalities. It will mean that when we are at our busiest, we will also have something positive and inspiring to focus on.

Olivia, UVI Form

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