EDITORIAL: News media irresponsible in crisis times

Here’s an interesting exercise to try the next time you are watching a news broadcast during this pandemic: divide a page on a page of a notepad; one side becomes NEGATIVE, the other, POSITIVE. Now, rank each news story with a check mark…is it NEGATIVE or is it POSITIVE? Does it inform or does it stoke the fires of anxiety, stress and fear.

At the end of the broadcast, see how your news channel did.

News broadcasters pride themselves on responsible reporting. They hold internal meetings to discuss what they should broadcast and how. However, the internal compasses by which news reporters navigate have a “true North” pointing to ratings, not to responsibility. Each network is looking to win the ratings race as that victory means more viewers. More viewers means more sponsors which ultimately means increased profit.

In the case of smaller networks, sensationalist newscasting means survival. So you are going to see more and more newscasts sensational the news rather to report it.

Sad to see such sensationalism win these times when we need constructive, informative and positive reporting to keep people informed, current and up todate. Instead of ramping up anxieties and stress levels, we need to be informed about what is working, what is succeeding, who is flattening the curve instead of being flattened by sensationalism.

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