Are there more bad news now?

Don’t you think that it seems like there’s more bad news on the TV nowadays? The spread of Corona virus. The economy going down. Natural disasters happening everywhere. Maybe there actually are more bad things happening now compared to 5, 10 years ago. Or maybe because information travels faster now, the news is able to pick up on more bad things happening than before. When you flip through the news channels, it even looks like the news are fighting to see who can broadcast more bad news.

Many people still remember the earthquake in Japan on March 11, 2011. Right after the event, all the news media were competing on who can broadcast a more menacing image of the earthquake and tsunami quicker than the other. As a result, there were many feedback from the people asking the news media to “Stop showing so much images of the tsunami, and share information on the safety of the people”.

Negativity bias

People have a “negativity bias”. This means that a “person shows more interest to negative information compared to positive information, and negative information tends to remain stronger in one’s memory”. It is said to be a characteristic that humans attained as a way to avoid risks.

This is related to things like the way we remember hardships more clearly than the happy times in our past. We may forget the acts of kindness or encouragements from others. But we will never forget the bad things someone did to us.

Giving what the people want

A variety of topics are picked up by the news. However, news about famous people getting married or being happy is not as interesting as news of scandals by the same famous people. TV news are interested in how many people view the particular show, so they broadcast what interests people. People have a negativity bias, so the news programs broadcast more negative news than positive news, so in the end each news programs are competing to see who can provide more negative news.

Many of us are affected by what is on TV. If there is an earthquake, the news urge us to buy more water and supplies. The news talks about shortage on toilet papers or masks, and the people run out to buy whatever is left over. There are those who benefit and lose from bad news. So someone out there actually wants more bad news to be broadcasted.

How do you take it in?

When we turn on the TV, information flows into our eyes and our ears. How should we take it in?

What is important is that we “Think”.

Whatever information we get, however credible it may seem, try to take it with a grain of salt. Is there news saying the opposite of what I am seeing now? Are there other opinions? We can get information from many different sources now, and so we need to use that to understand whether that information is correct or not.

Another thing to watch out for is “what information is NOT on the news”. There are many news that are broadcasted overseas but not in Japan. Also, there are some news that is different in Japan compared to other countries. There is always a reason for that, so let’s be discerning.

Next time you turn on the TV and see the news, let’s stop and “Think”!


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