It does not take a psychologist to understand that newspapers and TV news filled with disaster, crime, corruption and incompetence have a depressing effect on the mind. It also does not take a genius to work out why a section of the media concentrate on the depressing events going on in society – it sells papers and increases viewership.
Obviously there are ‘bad news’ stories that need to be reported, but there is so much good news and ‘feel good’ stories happening everyday in communities all around the world that rarely make the headlines. Why? Is journalistic cynicism to blame? or is it the reader’s perverted hunger for doom and gloom? As Winston Churchill once said: “The British nation is unique in this respect: they are the only people who like to be told how bad things are, who like to be told the worst.”
Croatia Week decided to investigate how Croatia’s own state-owned evening news broadcaster fared, and tracked one week (3-9 December 2014) of Croatian Radiotelevision’s (HRT) most watched broadcast – the 30 minute evening news at 7:30pm. The results, which exclude the sport news and weather, does not make good reading.
Out of the 94 items on the news during the week, 57% of them were ‘bad news’ reports, 25% were classified as ‘neutral’ (neither good or bad) and just 18% were ‘good news’ stories. When broken down into categories it was Current Affairs items that were the worst offenders – with 30 items out of 49 during the week ‘bad news’. Business / Economy was next with 13 out of 22 stories ‘bad news’, followed by Politics, where 10 out of 23 were negative. There were two evening news broadcasts in the week, on Monday the 8th and Tuesday the 9th, that only had 2 ‘good news’ or ‘feel good’ items during the entire half hour bulletin.
Surely it must be better for general moral in Croatia to give more airtime to the hardworking farmer, teacher, doctor or volunteer making a difference in his community, the small community sports clubs providing new opportunities for the kids, or the ‘feel good’ stories that just make the country a better place, than it is to give space on prime time, when hundreds of thousands are glued to their screens, to police brutality in a U.S state, political corruption in Italy, a psychopath in the UK, or religious extremists on the other side of the world. Perhaps journalists are drawn to reporting disasters, set-backs or misfortune because they make for simpler stories, and viewers respond quicker to negativity, nevertheless they do have a responsibility in helping create the ‘mood’ in a society.
On that note, we profusely apologise for adding to the pile of bad news you will no doubt be forced to endure today.