Magazine article New Statesman (1996)

Good News Is No News: How Can We Be Optimistic When We Crave the Negative?

Magazine article New Statesman (1996)

Good News Is No News: How Can We Be Optimistic When We Crave the Negative?

Article excerpt

I arrived home from ten days in France this summer. Living enfant sauvage-style at a friend's wilderness farm with shapeless days of tranquillity, I'd found the world a pretty good place to be.

That remained until I switched the radio on and heard of a battle raging between Russia and Georgia. Robert Mugabe saying a defiant "no way" to the idea of power-sharing, meaning five million Zimbabweans will likely starve. A major flue epidemic is probable. On TV, a long-faced Mervyn King declared an unimagined low in the economy's growth next year.

Home sweet home, and it's a relentless diet of gloom-mongering and man's inhumanity to man, because this is what the media believe we crave. Or so the Media Research Centre in the United States concluded, analysing news broadcasts by ABC, NBC and CBS over nine months and finding 61 percent of stories were negative or pessimistic. Just 15 per cent were optimistic.

[ILLUSTRATION OMITTED]

Blame it on biological determinism, say the neuroscientists. John T Cacioppo of the University of Chicago explains that very early the brain exhibits a "negativity bias", meaning it reacts with far more electrical activity to the stimuli of bad news than to good, and that this is seen at the earliest stages of information processing. Thus our attitudes are more heavily influenced by downbeat than good news.

So, with science putting weight behind the prevailing belief that "good news is no news", what was Achim Kram, himself a media man, doing launching OptimistWorld. …

Search by... Author
Show... All Results Primary Sources Peer-reviewed

Oops!

An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.