ERIC Number: ED233370
Record Type: RIE
Publication Date: 1981-Jan
Reference Count: 0
The Trouble with Bad News.
Haskins, Jack B.
Newspaper Research Journal, v2 n2 p3-16 Jan 1981
Subjective comments from veteran news reporters, media critics, and the public give the impression that bad or negative news is becoming a major problem in this country. This impression raises major questions concerning how much is really known about bad news, including whether the media present an accurate or distorted picture of reality in portrayals of bad news, how accurate the public's perception is with regard to the amount and prominence of bad news, the effects of bad news, and constructive approaches to the presentation of bad news. A review of psychological and communications research evidence produces some empirical support for the following hypotheses: (1) since 1950 the proportion of bad news in United States media seems remarkably stable, varying between 25% and 50% of total news space, with American television network news programs being the heaviest dealers in bad news; (2) the news media do not reflect the world of real events very faithfully--the more serious crimes are overrepresented; (3) "too much bad news" is the leading public complaint about media news, but since only about one-third of the news is bad, the public undoubtedly misperceives and overestimates the actual amount; (4) interest in bad news, however, averages about one-fourth to one-third higher than for other kinds of news combined; (5) in the short run, even a short radio broadcast can have several undesirable effects, while the long term effects can only be suspected; and (6) happy endings, optimistic titles, and solutions to problems are more interesting than the same bad news items without such positive approaches. (HTH)
Publication Type: Journal Articles; Information Analyses
Education Level: N/A
Authoring Institution: N/A
Identifiers: Audience Response; Negative News
Note: A more extensive version of this article appeared in the Third Annual Communications Research Symposium: A Proceedings; Joseph P. McKerns, Ed. (Knoxville, TN, College of Communications, 1980).