Day 201. Flawed Thinking

My post yesterday generated some very interesting comments.  Several people mentioned good news doesn’t sell papers.  Which is the reason why newspapers and no moneymagazines and news and current affairs shows, on both television and radio, are almost exclusively full of bad news.

The thinking being, when you scare people they listen.  And watch.  And read.  You get their attention.  You attract an audience.

At least that’s the conventional wisdom.  That’s what folks in the biz say.

Well, I’m here to tell you, I think they’re on crack.  Not those of you who read and commented on my blog yesterday.  You’re only repeating what you’ve heard and read.  I mean, the media honchos, who are drinking the Kool-Aid.   Hell, they’re not merely drinking the stuff.  They’re making it!  And forcing us to drink it.  Or at least they’re trying to make us drink it.

No Kool-Aid for me, thanks.  It’s never been on my list of favourite beverages.

But there are a few questions I’d like to ask them (the media moguls), if you don’t mind:

  1. If negative news is so good for business, why do circulation numbers keep going down?
  2. If negative news is so good for business, why do newsstand sales keep going down?
  3. If negative news is so good for business, why do audience ratings keep going down?
  4. If negative news is so good for business, why does advertising revenue keep going down?
  5. If negative news is so good for business, why are the media always crying the blues?
  6. If negative news is so good for business, why is one media outlet after another going out of business?
  7. If negative news is so good for business, why do sales increase dramatically when the headlines are about the Royal pregnancy?  Or other happy events.

Just curious, is all.

And please don’t blame the woes of the publishing and broadcasting industries on this economy, because their problems have been going on for a long, long time.  Long before the financial crisis.

Here’s a few more questions I’ve got:

  1. Could scaring consumers with a constant barrage of bad news be one reason no one’s investing?
  2. Could scaring consumers with a constant barrage of bad news be one reason company executives aren’t hiring?
  3. Could scaring consumers with a constant barrage of bad news be one reason no one wants to start a business?
  4. Could scaring consumers with a constant barrage of bad news be one reason no one’s motivated to do or try anything?
  5. Could scaring consumers with a constant barrage of bad news be one reason no one’s spending any money?
  6. Could scaring consumers with a constant barrage of bad news be one reason no one’s buying houses?
  7. Could scaring consumers with a constant barrage of bad news be one reason the economy’s stalled?

Just curious, is all.

Maybe I’m crazy.  Trust me, it’s entirely possible.  After all, what do I know?  I’m not an economist.  Or particularly brilliant.  All I know, is what I see.  And what I see doesn’t appear to be working very well.  What do you think?  Do you think it’s working?  Are you seeing what I’m seeing?  Or are you seeing something different?  I’d really love to know.  Really, I would.

Just curious, is all.

What are you doing?  How do you react to all the negativity and scare tactics?  Do you ignore it all?  Turn the other cheek?  Keep on, keeping on?  Stay calm and keep spending?

I’m hoping you can answer my last question.  Can someone tell me, how fear mongering and spreading doom and gloom, is good for anyone?  For anything?  For any business?  For the economy?  For the country?  For the world?  I’d love to know.

Just curious, is all.

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18 thoughts on “Day 201. Flawed Thinking

  1. Yep! They are on crack! I recently did a post on reading newspapers because I love them. I love the routine. I love reading about all the local stuff going on. That is the good local stuff. I don’t care about the drive-by shootings so I skip them (but the accelerated news about them drives people away from local restaurants). I love the celebrity news (yeah, it’s stupid and I don’t know most of them but I read it anyway). I love the advice column (you tell em goddess!). I love the obits (wanna be sure I’m not there). Our local paper is a shell with a few (very few) reporters. They write the local stuff and a wire service does the rest. Truth is I don’t read the government stuff because I am sooooo sick of it. I did read an indepth article on Adam Lanza and it was fascinating but it was more of story than news. Oh yes, I read the animal adoption column. Sweet. This diehart newspaper reader does not read the crap.

  2. I like the points you raised and feel strongly about this topic.

    Since you asked how I react to all the negativity in the media I’ll explain (and I don’t wish this to be misconstrued as self-promoting though it is inevitable from my example).

    My blog is definately a reaction to all the bad news. I feature stories which are positive on purpose. I share exampls of humans who are passionate and totally engaged about some thing and how much they have taught them self from their interest.

    I think the reason why so much news is negative is because it’s easier to get a cathartic response from an audience with the use of gruesome tales. That and people are fascinated with death.

    I think it’s harder to create something positive without running the risk of presenting something cliche or corny.

    But your blog is an example of how humor, good writing and wit can entertain and that’s why I keep coming back. I mean that, sincerely. I’m not trying to “butter you up.”

    • Wow! Thank you so much. And thanks for posting the stories you post. Bad news is uninspiring. I’m like you. I want to be inspired and much prefer feeling hopeful, instead of hopeless.

      • You know, while I was making toast it occurred to me that most blogs are written positively. And there is an unspoken code that comments be respectful. Good etiquette is extremely valued among the blogosphere.

        Perhaps the popularity of blogging is a world-wide response to all the negativity in the news and the need for self-expression is stronger than ever because of it.

        Keep on bloggin’ folks!

      • I think you bring up a very interesting point. I’ve not thought about it, but I’ll bet you’re right. Enjoy your toast, btw. 🙂

  3. In answer to your last question, I try to maintain the “one day at a time” strategy with a side bar that includes “hopes and dreams”. Seize the day, pay it forward and love the ones you love may sound trite to some but I highly recommend it!

  4. While a firm believer in paying attention to the news, I’ve changed news sources over the years. I want reporters to handle serious news seriously and leave out the fluff. CNN looks like an entertainment rag these days – they used to be a respected news organization.
    It’s all about money and no long term vision.

    This idea that faster is better means that vetting and fact checking have bitten the dust in favor of flashy, dramatic headlines. News has become entertainment and is treated as such – dramatic license, grisly, sensationalistic reporting and even libelous reporting is the pattern of the day now, not to mention those networks that have given up trying to be objective and now play partisan politics.

    In terms of the negativity, it’s about a lack of balance and integrity. I’m finding blogs that are better researched than the standard news organizations and more adept at providing a balanced view. Quite a bit of fear mongering is designed to drive consumerism – just ask the gun, duct tape and plastic sheeting manufacturers.

    • I agree with you about CNN. It’s a real shame. I agree with the rest of what you’ve said as well. But if bad/scary news improves the sale of guns and duct tape just imagine what good news might accomplish. Sales of cars and homes and theatre tickets and books and vacations and heaven knows what else. Maybe even enough advertising to keep publications and broadcasters in business.

      • I’m not suggesting they ignore reality. They have to report ‘news’ whether it’s good or bad. But it’s the fear mongering tone that really pisses me off. That is unnecessary; and, in fact, counter productive. And it would be nice is they reserved some space/time for uplifting, positive news.

  5. I don’t know if anyone – including these so-called “news outlets” – could answer your last question.

    Journalism has lost its integrity.

  6. This is unhealthy, but true. I turn into a turtle and only poke my head out when I have to. Otherwise I live in my own world and only take notice of the big events. Otherwise I just cant cope. And that is why I AM not a subscriber. Not brave, or motivational or even sensible. Just honest.

  7. I no longer give in to the impulse, the first view of a headline that pops out at me, I hesitate and now consciously decide not to read stuff that is designed to make the inquisitive respond, and when I scan the homepage of the news site I read, I am inevitably drawn towards the culture items, it’s just that they are much less prominent on the front page today.

    It seems to me they report what is being talked and commented about, but is there anyone standing back and looking at the overall picture it paints and the effect on the psyche of the readers. It’s like a multi-coloured painting that we discover at the end is all red, all the other colours have been obscured by its dominance!

    • I think it’s a very interesting point you bring up. “Is anyone standing back and looking at the overall picture it paints …?” I would think that’s the editor-in-chief’s job. But I wonder if it’s happening. It sure doesn’t feel, or look, like it is.

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