Earlier this week, I saw a reporter post on social media that the job of journalists is to find problems and expose them.
By definition, their focus is exclusively on what is perceived as wrong with the world. Hence, the news media has an automatic bias to the negative – creating constant doom and gloom, continuous fear mongering.
Journalists seldom have expertise on what they report and do not, themselves, offer solutions. I’ve worked long enough in industry to note that if you want to get ahead in business, you do not present problems to your boss – you present solutions to opportunities. As one manager put it, there are no challenges, only opportunities.
But journalists do not do that – they only present a constant stream of bad news.
We have seen this in spades during the Covid-19 pandemic – even good news is spun into negativity: “Vaccines have been approved but some do not trust them“, for example.
We’ve seen a continuous barrage of scary headlines about “super spreader events” and “holiday surges” – none of which actually occurred. But the media never goes back and says, gee, we were wrong about that. There are apparently no metrics for the media to achieve on accuracy – hence, they never improve because mistakes, to them, do not matter.
Even after the last half dozen scary predictions fell flat, they continue to give us ever more scary predictions – which are likely to fall flat.
After awhile, one wonders if anyone in the media – or epidemiology – ever read the parable of Never Cry Wolf? Because a lot of us no longer believe anything they say.