We won’t write the latest number of deaths in long term care homes in Ontario today. We refuse to board the sensationalist reporting as is the norm of almost all media today. As reluctant as we are, we lament at how poorly the media reports the news. Negatives, negatives, sensationalist negative news…the lead, the main and the whole of most news media today. The emphasis is on the sensational, the emotional attractiveness of the story, not the facts.
It is tiring how the news media deems it vital that negative stories dominate the news. The philosophy behind the media reporting is that sensationalism sells, sensationalism attracts, sensationalism is desirable. They are all guilty of leading with the negative, TV, radio and printed news. News fatigue is compounded by growing development of stress. Inevitably, fear and anxiety increase in relation to the amount of news one receives.
The media believes sensationalism attracts subscribers, viewers and readers. They pay little attention, if any, to the impact the reporting has on public anxiety, worry and fears. The majority of reported news emphasizes the negative aspects of the stories, the number of deaths, the number of ICU patients, the number of available beds in hospitals, the number of vaccinations, the number of COVID tests, etc., etc. Endless stories increasing worry and anxiety in the general public. Who cares? The media surely does not. Its concern is profit, revenue, earnings…the life-blood of their existence.
News subscribers cannot avoid the news, nor should they. However, they can become more discerning, more selective of their news sources. Avoid the ones that lead with negative sensationalism; avoid the ones that report only one side of a story; avoid the ones who pass on analysis, examination and evaluation; avoid the ones that lack commentary from a veteran and proven journalist. Peter Mansbridge, the well-known CBC newscaster was instrumental in making a large news organization change its news writing methods. Mansbridge felt the report doing the legwork on a story should be the chief author of its reporting. Mansbridge was right.
A veteran journalist will examine many facets of a story. They want the story filled in with facts and accurate detail so that news recipients are well informed, not just titillated with sensationalism. If the news source avoids asking the hard questions, there is no point in watching it. If only one side of the story is examined, then the recipient is getting a biased or slanted view.
We wish we could name a news source that is fair, that presents multiple sides of reported stories. We cannot as this kind of news reporting is an ideal that is non-existent. We can only suggest that news recipients ration the amount of news they read or watch. Watch or read enough to keep informed but avoid becoming saturated with the news. Too much and you suffer from their sensationalism. Better to take it in smaller doses, give thoughtful consideration and evaluation to what you have heard, read. Keep informed but with practical limits.