Why Do We Demand Negative News?

Why do we demand negative news? This article from Reason (there are others out there) talks about how much more negative coverage of Covid 19 is in the United States than the rest of the world. Lately I have also noticed that scientists and researchers are quite positive about moving past the virus while media is drumming up fears of another wave. Why do we do this to ourselves? And we do do this to ourselves, they only post what they know we will click on despite persistent fears of conspiracy and mind control we actually control them.


I saw the NYT article, and expected that to be your OP.

It’s an interesting question. I suppose fear, outrage, and hate sell better than more placid emotions.

Because bad news generates ratings/clicks.

“If it bleeds, it leads.” did not come from thin air and has never gone away.
Ignoring good news can lead to missing out, ignoring bad news can actively hurt you. So people pay more attention to bad news. That’s why every station has some version of “Red Alert” weather taht is badly overused.

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But why do we as Americans demand it more than other countries. What is wrong with us in particular?

How much time do you have?


Summed up pretty well in Nightcrawler:

“Think of our newscast as a screaming woman running down the street with her throat cut.”

I don’t have a wide view of foreign media sources, but my German friend says things are very negative there right now in terms of COVID perspective. She said all they have left is sarcasm.


For a simplistic answer: When you take the view that “you have ‘a lot’ to lose”, you tend to live more in fear of things that are going to take it.

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That’s an interesting thought.

Fear would sell everywhere. We, with profit-driven TV stations, just latched on hard to it. And TV stations realize that if they don’t go negative, the TV station next door will, and that TV station will get higher ratings instead of themselves.

Oh, and I don’t know if the expensive article says so, but we’ve been watching (not really demanding, since we now have remotes) negative news for decades.

at the beginning of this pandemic, FoxNews dowplayed it as no big deal and no worse than the flu. is that somehow better? I’d like realistic news in terms of COVID. the negative news about it was somewhat right.

also, can’t read that article on this browser without subscribing to the NY Times.

Please paste.
And, please cut out all the non-article crap.

oh as for negative news otherwise that doesn’t really affect me in any way, i’d like to not know about it. like, people who post a video on fb of someone being tortured to death or animals being abused. that’s gonna get you unfriended.

This chick is my new favorite person. it’s about dealing with 9/11, but this is some great advice for dealing with news now. don’t tell me that this isn’t a real person just because it’s the onion. she’s fantastic!

Returning To Abnormal (theonion.com)

In the NYT article the researchers speculate that we are more consumer driven, because we have less public funding.

The NYT writer speculates vaguely that they are just better journalists (lol) because we waste less time spouting rainbows and patting ourselves on the butts.

Kind of raises a 2nd question, which is how much news should be “good” news?

One problem is that we like to read about murders, but the amount we read doesn’t correlate with the number of murders that take place…

So average people think the crime rates are high right now, even though they are very low.

There has been a lot of evidence given in the thread that we DO demand negative news, and that news providers respond to that demand. The OP asked about WHY we demand it, though. I don’t see where that has been addressed yet.

Here’s one possibility:


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Here’s another article that touches on the media’s negativity & its effect on the public’s perception of risk.

There have been headlines recently that “Republicans tend to underestimate COVID risks, while Democrats overestimate them” (e.g. Political leanings impact pandemic fact perception, poll finds :: WRAL.com), but that Gallup poll on hospitalization above shows that, regardless of party affiliation/leanings, Americans tend to grossly overestimate the risks associated with Covid. That’s a direct result of the ‘information’ they’re getting from officials and media & has an effect on public policy & people’s behaviors.


Is it the case that Americans demand it more than other nationalities, or perhaps is it possible that awareness of specific instances of tabloid/shock media fades as you cross national or linguistic boundaries?

I’d also suspect that the relative size of the American market as compared to (say) the Finnish market might provide American negative news/“news” sources a greater opportunity to capture viewers and therefore advertising revenue than smaller-market counterparts, as well as the potential for more such sources fueling extra competition.

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