News reporting today is stuck in the 1980s in my opinion. The old TV news producer’s mantra – ‘If it bleeds it leads’ – has never been more true, with the majority of headlines having at least one of the following words: Killed, murdered, sexual assault, molested, raped, bombed, terrorist, victim, tragedy, disgraced, doomed, failure, online troll, suicide…
Over time such words make us all – especially younger people – a little desensitised and I fear we have become an increasingly violent and less caring society.
Radio, television, newspapers and, of course, the internet are packed with minute-by-minute reporting of bad news, instead of highlighting the many successes, happy outcomes and love that hopefully is still around… Or is it?
On almost any day of the week I can scan each of the online news services and only find one or two stories out of 55 or so (average) on the various home pages – that are ‘feel good’. For example, the recent story of a nine-year-old boy in the United States who had written to NASA applying for the job of ‘Planetary Protection Officer’, detailing his abilities with a humorous mention as to why he was suitable being that his sister calls him an alien! It put a smile on my face, and I’ve since shared the story with many people who reacted likewise.
There were of course a smattering of sporting results – more often than not with an ‘angry’ slant to the story (remember Serena’s recent rant?), some celebrity fashion faux pas stories (of course!… Let’s poke fun at easy targets) and how to eat better (sponsored, naturally).
While most news outlets now monitor each other for story leads the role of ‘journalist’ is increasingly being passed on to the average person. People see a fight in a club or some road rage incident, take some photos or video and post on social media or send directly to a news outlet. Fast, furious and financially beneficial in many cases.
Those who ‘blame’ the media for all kinds of reporting should think about this – “I am, you are, we are the media” – because we all now have at our fingertips the ability to ‘go live’ with absolutely anything and everything we hear and see – rightly or wrongly – with or without a headline!
While a good journalist should have the ability to write a great story, you and I only need to keep an eye out for something positive we see around us. Consider not watching the 6pm news, avoiding those ‘current affairs’ shows on television, not picking up a newspaper, keeping the radio off, and taking a break from your social media accounts for a week. If the world ends you’ll know about it soon enough!
During that ‘week of bad news desensitising’ try and find something positive about your family, friends or workplace or community. Volunteer somewhere even if just for a few days to do ‘something’ for your local community – even if just reading to the elderly who may be sight-impaired. Or simply get out and about and start saying ‘hello’ to people perhaps in a park or even a shopping centre!
It’s very easy to be a ‘pretend’ reporter. Just be smartly dressed and simply go up to someone and say: “Sorry to interrupt you – I’m writing a small book about what makes people happy – would you mind telling me what makes you happy?” Be sure to identify yourself.
Be prepared of course for some people to tell you ‘where to go’, but choosing the right people and carrying out such an activity in public should be okay. Also ask for a first name and be sure to thank them politely for their time.
If we are to have a positive influence on the next generation then the news needs more positive attributes than it has today. By continuing to desensitise people to the world around them, we will literally be going backwards in an evolutionary sense where ‘kill or be killed’ was the norm.