Where did all the positive news go? This topic came up for discussion in a recent meeting I was involved in. It was intriguing, so the scholar in me did a little bit of research. I looked up the websites of major national news sources. I looked at four sites all in one day and all within a three hour block of time (my attempt to have an experimental control of sorts). On these four sites there were hundreds of top news stories.
Here are some of the headlines I found:
"Pope confesses to stealing"?
"Family Accused of $7 million shoplifting spree"?
"Russian band members burned in attack"
"Lady out of luck? Deflated Danica desperate for change" ?
"Police video of Bieber's urine test released" ?
"Garth's divorce turmoil"?
"Anchor quits mid-report"?
"Barbie, Scouts under fire"
Aside from wondering whether some of these are even newsworthy, I noticed that there was a lot more negativity in the headlines than positivity. I did not read all of the associated articles, so maybe the articles had more positive tones than the headlines did, but something tells me to doubt that.
I didn't have time to count the actual total number of headlines and then determine how many were negative but I did do this for just one of the sites. That particular site had 95 top news stories scrolling repeatedly across the page. In my opinion, 82 of those headlines were negative. Of the 13 others, two were about recipes, two were health and wellness tips, and the other nine were actually straight up positive, or at least cute, stories. That's a rate of 86 percent negative.
That's terrible. No wonder people are experiencing stress at alarming rates (www.nynews.com recently stated that stress levels are up by as much as 30 percent over the last 30 years). We are surrounded by negative messages about the world around us.
From sports and the economy to religion and government, no topic is left untouched it seems. Negativity is an awful invasive species, overshadowing and choking out the good stuff. Sure, some of this negativity is informative and serves a purpose to the general public. But why don't we hear more positive news? Is it because positive news doesn't exist anymore? Would reporters really have to dig that deep to find positive news stories?
I know I'd rather hear about the positive things. If they are struggling to find positive stories, maybe we could invite them to Alpena. We could give them plenty of positive stories. Economic development interest is hopping. A middle college is about to start enrolling students. Plans are in full swing for some pretty fantastic summer events. Grassroots efforts are under way to revitalize certain areas of town. And more, much more.
Just last week we had a Good Morning Alpena breakfast that I went into feeling frustrated because of something unrelated, and left feeling refreshed because of all the positive reporting that was done.
But if they don't want positive news stories that's fine. We can take matters into our own hands. We know there is no lack of positive news to spread.
We know the reason that 86 percent of the stories reported were negative in nature is not because there is nothing positive to report. Negativity simply, and unfortunately, speaks louder than positivity and that's too bad. But here in this area, let's give positivity a louder voice than negativity. Keep sharing positive stories on your own social media sites, keep spreading the good word about our community to everyone you meet. We may live in this world where so much of what we hear in the news is negative, but we have a choice whether we want to contribute to spreading the negative stories or not.
Jackie Krawczak is the executive director of the Alpena Area Chamber of Commerce. Her column runs bi-weekly on Tuesdays. Follow Jackie on Twitter @jkrawczak.