Happy News: Once in a Blue Moon

I love discussions over current political situations and scenarios, read and watch the news (almost) everyday, and have friends and family to discuss the news with. It occurs to me:

Collection of negative news headlines
The most fequently seen headlines!

“Why is the news so negative

Every news-person and journalist I happened to inquire, gave me the response on these lines:

“Negative? This is reality. The world is a bad place. Bad things happen. We’re trying to make the world better by telling people about it the way it is. People murder their families. Kids and teens are kidnapped. Terrorists are trying to kill you; bomb blasts happen everyday. Dozens of people are being shot dead everyday. We’re at war. The politicians, the government, are corrupt; the army, the judiciary and agencies are plotting against you. Incredible car accidents, train wrecks and plane crashes take place on a regular basis and you need to know about them. The world is giving you cancer. Terrible plagues are on their way. Climate change is here, and we’re all going to die.”

breaking-newsWhat is wrong with all this? This is the reality we’re made to believe each time we switch on the T.V., isn’t it?

I love newspapers and TV news, and I’ve mostly seen negativity as a by-product of freedom of the press – freedom to criticize those is power and expose crime, corruption, inaction, inequality and injustices. But in the last few years, something changed. I started finding news, TV news in particular, irritating, painful, disturbing, even traumatic. Repetitive. Torturous. Paranoid. Overkill. I’d turn on Geo and hear an unrelenting charge of corruption, accusations against the government, inflation, instability, murders, deaths, explosions, disasters, tragedies, terrorists and apocalyptic predictions.

Perhaps the world has simply gotten worse in the last decade. Climate change, terrorism, hyperinflation, economic decline, and war have made the news cycle more frightening. But I don’t think viewers take issue with this type of negativity. They understand the state of the world. They watch the news.

This is what is meant by negative:

NewsCastYou see a dry, windy day, the media see climate change. You see a road, the media sees car accidents, traffic jams, and pollution. You see a protest and the media shouts that the government must go. You see a religious festival or public holiday ahead, the media alert us a terrorist attack is imminent. You see an empty street, the media see street crimes, armed robberies and target killings. You see a glass half-full, the media tell you the remaining water in that glass could be contaminated with cyanide by terrorists. You say: “Have a nice day,” the media say: “It started off as a nice day, but it ended in murder, car accidents, a fire, bank robberies, a frightening new trend and arrests. Detailed news after the break.”

If you had a friend who talked like TV news, you’d probably think that friend was an idiot, paranoid, hyper, morbid, manic and clinically depressed.

Television networks, particularly 24-hour news networks, come alive when a war starts. This is no accident. War reporting is one of journalism’s core assignments and, not accidentally, the greatest driver of ratings.

War and its attendant horrors might have forged and woven the very fabric of journalism. Some people say that the popular inverted pyramid reporting style has its roots in war. War reporters, always fearful of having their stories cut off by the telegraph, wrote stories in a hierarchy of carnage where the deaths came first, followed by injuries.

While this theory is disputed, the pyramid style persists and has a led to an obsession with body counts and violence. Stories are more important if more people die, and readers find that news stories trail off without any kind of … conclusion. They’ll show you an accident, but they won’t tell you why it happened or how to prevent it next time.

And the very language of journalism is said to have come from war. A politician will face a “barrage of questions,” bills are “torpedoed” and exciting new books are “explosive.” In Pakistan, the evening news has something related to this: “Today, 15 people were shot dead in different parts of Karachi” being accompanied by images of an ambulance being sent off from the crime scene, the traumatized victim or his/her dead body being moved around in the hospital and finally scenes of crying and wailing women and then men. After the final ‘sensational’ development of the news, the channels would lay claims that they were the first ones to break the news first to you.

The number of dead are reported in this manner: “The explosion claimed 31 lives, which included 24 women and children”. 31 and 24 seen quite high together, a psychological effect intended at creating a sensation, and spark interest (read: horror) among the viewers, to keep them glued to their seats, make them depressed.

If everything was fine, would you read the newspaper?

Perhaps people have gotten hooked on negative news the way people got hooked on junk food. And here is perhaps the most popular argument in favor of media negativity. It’s what the people want. But is it really?

Good and happy news are flashed on the TV too, like winning a cricket or hockey match, but isn’t that too short lived, and not given the attention it duly deserves? Would you like to listen to any good news?

If the media are too negative, there is one person who might have the power and the ideas to change it.

That’s you!


42 responses to “Happy News: Once in a Blue Moon”

  1. Sardar Arif Khan Avatar
    Sardar Arif Khan

    Great article!

    1. Thank you so much 🙂

    2. Gulmehak Aslam Avatar
      Gulmehak Aslam

      amazing facts thoughts and opinions 🙂

      1. Thanks Gulmehak 🙂

  2. Yusra Imran Avatar
    Yusra Imran

    That is sooo true… Great article!

    1. Thank you Yusra 🙂

  3. Bilal Haider Khan Swati Avatar
    Bilal Haider Khan Swati

    Good one… Pakistani media is immature, they have a long way to go to reach the maturity level.

    1. Thank you Bilal, I totally agree with your opinion. Our media has a long way to go; however media around the world needs to change their attitude and reporting style and manner, for the greater good.

      1. Rubab Abbas Avatar
        Rubab Abbas

        This is very amazing. You’ve an astute writing style. Loved how you actually defined “negativity”.
        All of this is, so true!
        But it is not just the media, to be blamed. You are correct on the part where the change can be brought through us. As, we people avoid all the happy times of our lives and get engrossed in pessimistic notions and sad times. We are never grateful for what good has happened but we actually focus on the bad things!
        You write awesome stuff!

        1. Thank you so much Rubab! You have a point there! You’re right when you say, that people are pessimistic. But the, or more appropriately, one of the source of pessimism and negativity in a person life is the TV News they watch each day; they’re brainwashed that there is nothing right or good going around in the world, frustrates them and the result is what we see quite often!

  4. Abbas Asad Avatar
    Abbas Asad

    Very interesting!!!

    1. Thank you Abbas 🙂

  5. I want to commend you for your writings on Journalism today. As a Christian journalist, I too see the negative side of the national news. God shows us the positive doesn’t he? Keep up your great writing.. Blessings, Doug

    1. Thank you Doug 🙂 Yes, I do believe that every cloud has a silver lining 🙂

  6. Areeba Shamsi Avatar
    Areeba Shamsi

    Fresh writing.
    Loved it!

    1. Thank you so much 🙂 I’m happy that you loved it 🙂

  7. Ariba Azeem Avatar
    Ariba Azeem

    tremendous work
    ths is SOO trUe!!.

    1. Thank you Ariba 🙂

  8. Absolutely agree. It’s easy to buy into the narrative supplied by mass media news because I think most people secretly want to put their lives in a narrative arc like this. Heroes vs villains, it’s a simplistic storytelling device.

    1. Thank you Mark! How do you find the news these days?

  9. Rabika Fatima Avatar
    Rabika Fatima

    Very well written.
    So true.

    1. Thank you Rabika 🙂

  10. Sadia Elahi Avatar
    Sadia Elahi

    This is so true.. specially this part “Good news are flashed on the TV.. but short lived!”
    Very well written! 🙂

    1. Thank you Sadia, I’m really glad that you liked it! 🙂

  11. Absolutely true sensational review…
    Absolutely TRUE 😀

    1. Thank you very much Hassan 😀

  12. Huma Syed Hussain Avatar
    Huma Syed Hussain

    Great article and very true indeed.

    1. Thanks Huma, I’m really pleased you liked it 🙂

  13. Urooba Aziz Avatar
    Urooba Aziz

    Couldn’t agree more.
    Great Work!

    1. Thanks a ton Urooba 🙂

  14. Marium Muhammad Hussain Avatar
    Marium Muhammad Hussain

    Wise words. Great article! 😀

    1. Thanks a lot Marium for your wise opinion 🙂 😀

  15. Syed Rohan Shah Avatar
    Syed Rohan Shah

    Very sexy.

    1. Thank you Rohan 🙂

  16. Swaleha Khalid Petiwala Avatar
    Swaleha Khalid Petiwala

    This is a very very well executed article Ahmer 🙂 Keep it up!

    1. Thank you so much Swaleha 🙂

  17. Zain Mirza Avatar
    Zain Mirza

    very informative and completely true!

    1. Thank you so much Zain 🙂
      Just to let you know: yours is the 100th comment on my blog 🙂

  18. Excellent insight in this issue 🙂

  19. Cody De Bernales

    It very simple to find out about depressing news on the web than in the printed papers. News is indeed depressing these days!

    1. I know it is! Let’s try and make it better 🙂

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