‘It’s time to break the bad news bias’

With research suggesting almost half the UK population now avoids the news, it’s time for the media to give more prominence to what's going right

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A report out this week confirmed something that we at Positive News have long suspected: people are switching off from the mainstream news because it is so overwhelmingly negative. Research published by the Reuters Institute suggests that 38 per cent of people globally now avoid the news. In the UK, that figure was 46 per cent – a rate that has nearly doubled since 2016. Among the reasons for disconnecting, 55 per cent of UK avoiders said, quite simply, that the news was bringing them down – the highest rate among the countries sampled.

We live in an epoch of converging crises, there’s no avoiding that. Time is running out to get a grip on global heating and biodiversity loss, war is raging in Ukraine, the spiralling cost of living is putting a strain on households, and populist politicians are weakening our democratic systems, eroding trust. Reporting on this stuff is vital, being able to hold power to account is a pillar of our democracy. 

But such an exclusive focus on bad news, with little coverage of the potential solutions or the many things that are going right, means that people are becoming disheartened and disconnected. In response, the team at Positive News are calling for an end to the ‘bad news bias’ across the media.

We believe that a solution-focused approach needs more prominence in mainstream journalism. By reporting on progress as well as problems, the media can give a fuller, more balanced view of reality. It can benefit people’s mental health and wellbeing, and crucially, it empowers people by showing that our actions matter and that change is possible. This has never been of more importance.

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