Negativity in news

Last evening during dinner table gossip I found the topic of my latest blog. I was joined in the dinner table by my 82 year old mother, 17 year old daughter and my wife (age cannot be disclosed). The TV was on and some news channel was blaring something ‘exciting’. My daughter is always against news TV channels as she finds news are boring and negative. So she was complaining why we are watching the news. Instantly the ‘negative’ thing caught all of us. Yes, it is true. News with negative vibes is broadcasted with all flare and noise. Positive news seldom finds space in these news channels.

That evening I was in the local weekly vegetable market to buy vegetables for the week. I was delighted to find the rates of certain vegetables were at bottom. I found my weekly bill for vegetables was at least less by 25%. Vegetable prices find their place in news channels, newspapers and even in panel discussions in TV channels when their prices hit the roof. Last year onion prices were talk of the whole country. WhatsApp was replete with messages on onion prices and creative minds were belting out jokes on onion prices, right from asking the Income Tax status of the buyer if s/he is buying 2 kgs of onion or declaring a vendor richest man if he is sitting on two bags of onion or to give onions as dowry. Few months back Potato prices shoot up and all hell broke loose. Yesterday I found prices of these two vegetables at rock bottom. Broccoli was costing 5 times of what was the price yesterday just a month back. Same was true for many other vegetables. But these positive trends find no space in news channels, newspapers, panel discussions and daily gossips.

My mother remarked that she has also started despising the newspapers and news channels since she finds these are splattered with negative news. Most of us begin our day with a cup of coffee or tea and newspaper spread on the table. What we find besides some headline news in the front page, all negative news in the inside pages. Barring the sports page and the business page where the publisher has no choice but to publish the truth (though in these pages, the publisher tries to insert some columns sometimes in which negativity about a sportsman or a business house is spread), all other pages are full of negative news. There could be some logic in publishing these negative news items. I do not find any logic in a news item published in a prominent newspaper with heading – man killed his mother-in-law (obviously I did not read any further). What purpose is served when such news is published? Many positive incidents do not find space in news.

We all thrive in negativity in our day to day lives these days. When we meet people and inquire about their well-being and if the response is good, the talk ends. The moment the other person says something is wrong with him, the talk lingers on. What, how, why all these interrogations start. Not all the time the idea is to find the cause of the problem the other person is facing and to help him/her. Many a times it is aimed at creating false sympathy for the person. Many a times it is to find another item for gossip.

I find it waste of public money when I see full page advertisement by govt. departments announcing any welfare programme or success of a particular policy. These should be news items instead of advertisements. Public money has been spent to achieve certain success. It needs to be lauded in every forum rather than the authorities need to advertise (such pages are quickly shuffled anyway by the reader).

The idea of this topic was why it is enthralling to be negative. Are we all paranoid? Do we all believe in sarcasm? Why is it so that negative news excites us? Pages of art and culture get only a glance and quickly shuffled, programmes of music and dance in TV are quickly changed and our gossips mostly veered around something negative, sleazy and groundless topics. All the soaps in TV channels compete with each other in negativity to score higher TRP. Good shows unless with some genuine comedy content fizzle out soon.

The contradiction is evident. It is said that no news is good news. Earlier we used to spend considerable time with newspapers. Now it is just passing glances. The matter below the heading is hardly read since heading says it all. We are hungry for news yet the hunger is quickly satiated seeing the quality of news. We must ponder why such a downward trend. Why my 82 year old mother who otherwise a vociferous reader despises newspapers or news channels? Why my 17 year old daughter is not interested in news?



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