EACH AND EVERY DAY, 100,000 airliners land safely. Nobody pays any attention to it. It’s not news. No headlines on the front page, no “breaking news” on TV.
That example is one I’ve used a number of times in media training sessions to help explain why there’s “so much negative news.” When nothing goes wrong, it means there’s nothing unusual to report.
Another thing I explain is that human beings are hard-wired to prefer reading about negative news to positive news. It’s actually in our DNA, part of our survival instinct. We’re always on the lookout for things that might threaten us.
So, negative news gets our attention. Our heart rate goes up; we become more alert. Positive news is a nice diversion from the negative but it doesn’t excite us as much as the bad stuff.
Mel Rothenburger is a former mayor of Kamloops and a retired newspaper editor. He is a regular contributor to CFJC Today, publishes the ArmchairMayor.ca opinion website, and is a director on the Thompson-Nicola Regional District board. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.