I have long argued that traditional news sources such as TV, radio and to a lesser extent newspapers, are contributing massively to unrealistic fear in society and clouding our judgement.
You see, the TV news we watch each night is presented as a ‘summary of the day’s events’, either locally, nationally, or globally. But this is a coverup. By any objective analysis, it i usually a summary of the day’s WORST events. What this does is start to skew the perspective of we viewers into thinking that these events are average, not extraordinary. This badly affects our daily judgements…
Did you know that violent crime rates in most first world countries, including Australia and America have substantially declined over the past 20 years? Meanwhile, in the American example, REPORTING of homicide crime in the mass media had inceased by 478%. The result?Â Almost all people in America believe that crime is continually rising. Many are afraid of tomorrow, and many are too afraid to help their fellow citizens fearing something terrible will happen to them if they “get involved”.
The stats and reasearch isn’t much different in Australia.
For a business case example, you only have to look at the random fear-mongering behaviour of the share market to see what fear will do to the perceived value of something. Recent research is showing that traditional models of predicting share market behaviour are fundamentally flawed because of fear and pack mentality. Most traders don’t watch fundmental share values, they watch each other. Inject a small amount of fear and watch the prices tumble.
And so how IS business confidence? During this “economic downturn” I have been trying to remain immune to all the rhetoric that sells papers and TV programs. I have become largely convinced that it is the news sources that report consumer and business confidence that actually CREATE consumer and business confidence. Sure, some industries are affected by drying up credit, but my own personal research of which businesses are suffering versus the media’s report of the same, indicated some very different answers. My business interests have never grown so fast, and I really have heard very few actual doom and gloom stories from those I have asked. Those poor stories I have heard are mostly due to that “consumer confidence” chicken/egg game again.
You know what I want on TV more than anything else? I would even sacrifice the Simpsons, Mythbusters and the New Inventors for it (AKA geek TV). I want a news program that reports the news in accurate PROPORTIONS. That is to say that if one murder happens for every 10,000 selfless good deeds, then let they be reported in that proportion. I want stories that focus on visionary people and their dreams for the world. I want stories that remind us of how incredibly fortunate we are to be living in one of the most beautiful, safe, wealthy and just places in the World.
Now you might say that this brings the danger of naivety, and seeing the World through ‘rose coloured glasses’. But I am utterly convinced that there is no good that can come from filling my head with the worst that humantiy can manage each day. I don’t believe that this is what the world is really like. Empiricle, undeniable, scientific facts PROVE that this is not what the world is really like, so why do we titilate ourselves with the fear that impares our judgements and contributes to a self-creating prophecy?
Nevermind the News, I’ll take the facts any day.
Until then, I’ll stick to my tested news sources and avoid the mainstream fear mongering. Skimming SMH for its independent news (read: no Packer or Murdoch agendas) and quality reporting. GCBN and BBN for local business news. New Scientist for the cutting edge of inspirational human evolution.
And The Simpsons for when I want something satirical and farcical…but not as farcical as the Nightly News.