Today’s Crowdwish was ‘I wish the media would focus more on the good things that happen in the world’.
The fact is that bad news sells; negative events cause spikes in TV ratings, sales of papers to rise and increases in traffic online.
Typically, positive news stories don’t have the same impact. There are exceptions to this – huge events like the Olympics or very unusual stories like the amazing rescue of the Chilean Miners – but it is statistically verifiable that negativity bias flourishes in most news outlets.
This isn’t because we are all slightly twisted voyeurs who relish other people’s difficulties; it arises as a consequence of deeper neurological programming.
Man’s (and women’s) most primeval survival skill is to stay out of harms way; to be alert to threats or danger, and our brains are therefore hardwired to be highly responsive to negative stimuli. Bad is stronger than good because bad is inherently more threatening.
As a result the media cater very directly to that powerful physiological reaction, giving us more of that which we fixate on and respond to, resulting in a slant towards negative news.
This will never change, but it can feel soul destroying and exhausting to be fed a constant diet of things that we should be scared of or worry about.
This for example is a very comprehensive list of all things that The Daily Mail have claimed ‘may’ cause cancer. The list includes water, soup, wearing flip flops and switching on the bathroom light at night.
It’s more hilarious than offensive but led us to want to have a cheap laugh at The Mail’s expense this afternoon, it being Friday and all.
So we made a faux-marble sign that we thought displayed a more accurate depiction of the Mail’s true editorial values, and sent someone – dressed as a workman in hard had and Hi Vis vest – to fix it to the side of their building in Kensington.
Amazingly, it was a full hour before somebody noticed and removed it.
You can see the photos below.
Yes, we know The Daily Mail is an obvious target, and No, we don’t think it was very grownup.