Bad News Sells Better
According to most online sources, a story is considered newsworthy if it meets these
general criteria: impact, timeliness, prominence, proximity, the bizarre and extraordinary,
conflict, significance, human interest. These are considered objective values of
But how objective can they be when the mass media is driven by the marketability of the
news story and the profit motive. In the light of this, some of the above guidelines may
not be as objective as they are deemed to be, especially the last two. By what yardsticks
do the media houses determine what is significant and of human interest?
Bad news and sensationalism is solely considered as being of human interest. Consider
this when you surf the news channels tonight and open your newspapers tomorrow. Do
the stories leave you with a positive feeling that the world is a good place or does it have
the opposite effect? The news media actually paints a negative picture of life as we see it,
especially with the lengthy and repeat telecast of sordid events and gruesome images.
For those who are spiritual, think of the negative energy that this kind of coverage
generates on a global scale. The stories indeed may be significant, but how they are
presented and the length of the coverage are not directly proportionate to the actual
significance of the event.
Shaping Public Opinion
This raises another question. Is it the job of the media to blindly cater to the animal
instincts of people? Just give them what they want so that they keep watching the
growing commercials and reading the press advertisements? Or do they have a role to
play in shaping people’s mindsets and providing alternate news that can also benefit
But they can do this only if they circumvent the maximum possible profit ideal. The
media can provide a much-needed platform to sportspersons in other fields apart from
cricket. They can also play an important role in popularizing those sports. After all, there
is a lot of repeat coverage, which can be given to under-celebrated events.
There are many positive news stories out there, if only you search for them. Just
google ‘positive news’ and you would be surprised at the number of newsworthy positive
stories that can be of extreme human interest. The media needs to first retune its mindset
that bad news is more “saleable”, and that sensationalism can only be profitable. Not only
is the mass media neglecting their true calling, but are also missing out on other lucrative