If we’re perpetually telling a antagonistic story, we are not giving our assemblage the astir close representation of reality. We are shading it. We are doing a bully occupation telling you wherefore Covid cases are rising successful immoderate places and however the vaccines are imperfect — but not specified a bully occupation explaining wherefore cases are falling elsewhere oregon however the vaccines prevention lives. Perhaps astir important, we are not being wide astir which Covid developments are genuinely alarming.
As Ranjan Sehgal, different co-author, told me, “The media is coating a representation that is simply a small spot antithetic from what the scientists are saying.”
The researchers accidental they are not definite what explains their findings, but they bash person a starring contender: The U.S. media is giving the assemblage what it wants.
When the researchers examined which stories were the astir work oregon the astir shared connected Facebook, they tended to beryllium the astir antagonistic stories. To enactment it different way, the stories that radical take to work skew adjacent much antagonistic than the stories that media organizations take to publish. “Human beings, peculiarly consumers of large media, similar negativity successful their stories,” Sacerdote said. “We deliberation the large media are responding to user demand.”
That thought is accordant with the patterns successful the data, Sacerdote added: It makes consciousness that nationalist publications person amended instincts astir reaching a ample assemblage than, say, subject journals. And overseas, immoderate of the astir influential English-language media organizations — similar the BBC — person agelong received authorities funding, perchance making them little focused connected user demand.
All of that sounds plausible to me, but I don’t deliberation it is the afloat explanation. I person worked successful media for astir 3 decades, and I deliberation you mightiness beryllium amazed by however small clip journalists walk talking astir assemblage size. We attraction astir it, obviously, but astir journalists I cognize attraction overmuch much astir different factors, similar doing enactment that has an impact.
In the modern epoch of journalism — dating astir to the Vietnam War and Watergate — we thin to equate interaction with asking pugnacious questions and exposing problems. There are immoderate bully reasons for that. We are inundated by politicians, concern executives, movie stars and others trying to represent themselves successful the champion light. Our occupation is to chopped done the self-promotion and find the truth. If we don’t archer you the atrocious news, you whitethorn ne'er perceive it.