After spending most of my adult life perusing hundreds of thousands of open news tabs, I’ve come to at least one interesting conclusion.
We mostly cover bad stuff that happens and bad things about people. Wait, that’s not my big breakthrough. I’m sure you’ve noticed that too. Here’s the twist. Covering only (or even mostly) the bad things adds a certain value to bad behavior. That’s what gets coverage. Coverage is life.
So what if, as an experiment, we covered more of the good stuff? What if that coverage paradoxical effect of adding a certain value to doing good?
Some cops do great stuff. Let’s cover that. And let’s cover protestors who do so peacefully and are driven by a worthy cause. How about having a guest on a political talk show who’s not there to defend themselves. Perhaps a story about a big business that made a decision that impacted the world in a positive way? Or what about a TMZ piece about a celebrity who made love to their own spouse in a really loving and connected way? And, seriously, can we cover a positive weather story, just once? I know hurricanes and tsunamis need coverage. But it had to be damn nice somewhere today.
I know what you’re thinking. The bad stuff gets covered because that’s what the audience wants. There’s truth in that, and I’m sure what researchers call our Negativity Bias is entirely real. But there’s also truth in the fact that Americans can be manipulated into getting into almost anything. In a couple weeks we’re gonna be completely fired up about watching the balance beam competition.