You are the editor of the news service. It’s press time and you must decide what news will get top billing. The staff settles on two major stories. You must decide which one takes first place. Here are your two options:
OPTION 1. STAGERING DEATH TOLLS!
“An estimated 151,000 people were catastrophically swept away today. This day will be an anniversary of mourning for years to come. Millions are devastated as they lay their loved ones in graves. Hearts go out for their loss. Stay tuned for details.”
OPTION 2. WORLD-WIDE JUBILATION!
“Amazing news today as an estimated 360,000 babies are freshly introduced to our world! Hundreds of thousands of proud parents rejoice while millions of family members and friends join the revelries! Stay tuned for our special montage capturing delight from every nation of the world!
The editor tells us daily what is valuable and news-worthy. They hold tremendous power and cultural sway, for intentionally, or not, they shape cultural perspectives, values and attitudes. They tell us what is important enough to be news.
By the way, an estimated 151,000 die daily and about 360,000 are born daily
Sadly, some news services look for startling headlines like, “243 DIE IN PLANE CRASH.” They know 10,000 children starving daily would quickly become old and redundant news.
Sometimes I get angry at editors, or the people who pay their salaries. For I feel money or negative social agendas are at work.
People can be vulnerable to the emotional stimulants in news stories. Many editors seek a new yank-you-about emotional drug to share with viewers, listeners and readers. Fear and indignation sell to the addicted. Pity and resentfulness to others. The love people have for being judges is also a powerful drug. Heart-warming stories sell to a few. All of these may generate income for news services.
Many editors and the powers behind them spin their stories to reinforce their beliefs, or at least in an attempt to get people believing something.
Anecdotal stories are famous tools for news/persuasion.
“Innocent mother killed by gun.” The point is guns are bad.
“Gun saves family in home assault.” The point is guns are useful.
Any number of cultural beliefs are shaped leveraging anecdotes.
An editor knows how to do this
My heart goes out to decent reporters and editors with integrity who are often hard up for news. Perhaps you should give them a suggestion for a story to cover.
You can literally “Help a reporter” out by going to https://www.helpareporter.com Perhaps a desperate reporter or editor will thank you for your lead.
By the way, you are the editor of your own life. I hope you will see life about you and know what is really news-worthy, and share it with others.
Steven C Johnson