When was the last time you saw genuinely GOOD, inspirational news at the top of the news hour or filling your news feed? As if the winter days aren’t dark enough — Must we spend them bombarded by political ignorance, reality star check-ins, crime, vanity, even darker crime, and even deeper political ignorance?
The answer is: no. We can help change this.
Most People Don’t Know This, But WE Control the Media
The way news is reported has changed drastically with the advent of the internet. Instead of reading papers or catching the news on TV, many people are finding their news online. This has changed the financial model of press organizations, so that they now need to generate income from their online advertising. If no one sees this advertising, they don’t get paid. So they need your click.
How does this shape the news? Simply, news organizations are motivated to write about their most “clicked on” and shared topics — the stories that are getting the most traffic. So even if you click on a story because you’re disgusted by it — “He said WHAT!?” — you’re actually promoting this person’s negative behavior, ensuring that it gets attention and is shared with even more people. When you share an article about something you don’t like on Facebook, trying to discourage it, you’re actually encouraging more traffic (and more income) to go to spreading this bad news or topic. Even when you simply comment on a Facebook post you don’t like, you’re ensuring that this post gets shared at least a few more times, as commenting often triggers the post to appear in more news feeds.
Instead of focusing strictly on accurately reporting the news, reporters are tasked with watching social media and search results to write more about these trending topics. When the trends in our behavior change, so does much of the news.
Three Things We Can Do to Change Negative News:
Think of celebrities and politicians like bratty, attention-seeking children. The more attention we pay to their bad behavior and vanity, the more we’re encouraging it.
Ooh, it’s tempting to read about how critics are mocking an actress’s weight or to click to see her latest bad hairstyle. And, wow — we can’t believe that this politician can be so stupid, or that politician can do such terrible things! But you know what? We’re NOT going to spend our time (or our advertising dollars) there. We’re NOT going to give money promoting that cause or topic. Just scroll on by. Make sure you don’t search for these sensational things, as searches are also tracked. Simply: Don’t pay attention to things you want to rid the world of.
Click, Comment On, or Share Good News:
Want your children to grow up in a world where intelligence is celebrated and vanity is underrated? Looking to encourage positive action instead of attention-seeking nonsense from our local and national politicians? Want to draw people to a particular cause? Whatever it is you stand for, your attention should go here. When you click a story or stay tuned to watch, you’re telling news organizations and writers — “This is what I like. I want to see more of this in the world.” If we all collectively start seeking out the news we really care about — trying to promote the things we consider positive behavior — we will slowly change the trend of “bad news”.
Spread the Word
The Internet is ever-evolving, and many people don’t know how they contribute to the larger picture. Remind people that there is such a bigger world out there than what they see on their screens. While the one person who’s acting crazy is getting reported on, there are hundreds of others out there doing beautiful things in beautiful places — mostly unreported or with their stories hidden away. Encourage people to seek out and pay attention to these stories in the mainstream media — telling news organizations that THIS is more of what we want.
And if you don’t want to sift through all the daily drama to find those uplifting pieces, spend your time on good news websites like:
- The Kind’ers section on Kinda Kind (a new community sourcing section for all things kindness!)
- HuffPost Good News (NOTE TO ASHLEY: pics may be good for this list, linking through their icons or something.)
- Good News Network
- And of course, Kinda Kind
While there are many factors that determine the topics that stay at the top of the news, your clicks and interest can be one of the biggest. The goal here is not one of wearing rose-colored glasses, pretending negativity doesn’t exist in the world. Our aim is to reduce the attention paid to cruel gossip, harsh opinions, embellished or false stories, and attention-seeking / “bad behavior”. If the headline makers were encouraged to act positively rather than act-out, imagine what the results could be.