Does the News Always Have to Be Stressful?

One of the things I was most looking forward to as part of my teaching over in Singapore for a few months was taking a break from what seemed to be the constant bombardment of negative news back in the U.S.

Most of that negative news was of a political nature. I know I could have simply stopped watching or reading the news, but that seems like a difficult task. Plus, I like to be informed and think there is value in being up to date. But at some point, it becomes too much, too stressful, and I just wanted to get away from it.

And getting away to Singapore seemed to be working, at least for the first couple of weeks. I wasn’t constantly checking to read about the latest battle in Washington.

But then the coronavirus started spreading, and since it originated in Asia, it became big news here.

Whenever I glance at the newspapers or TV stations, it seems that is all they talk about. I have been impressed by the response of the Government of Singapore, and I am confident in their ability to contain the virus and to ensure the welfare of everyone. Despite that, reading and watching the news creates more anxiety.

Exactly what I was hoping to get away from.

So I started thinking; is making people stressful just a natural consequence of following the news? And if so, does it have to be? Has it always been this way?

Back home, we would always watch World News Tonight with David Muir, and our favorite segment was always the last one. The final story is always a feel-good piece, and I’ve often wished there were more of those stories on the news.

But if having multiple feel-good stories in one broadcast is too much, I wonder what it would be like if the feel-good story became the lead story, and political stories were saved until the end. I know that it’s nice to save the best for last and to leave the audience smiling at the end, but starting with a happy story may just help viewers get through the rest of the news in a more positive way. Or how about no more than three minutes on any one topic – politics, weather, business, sports, arts, health and wellness, etc.

This may also explain why the late-night talk shows and The Onion are so popular. They often take a look at the news but in a humorous, non-stress inducing manner.

Maybe that should be the way all news is delivered. I think people prefer to laugh rather than worry.

I know I do.

*image from Explore Traveler

29 thoughts on “Does the News Always Have to Be Stressful?

  1. This harkens back to an old saying in publishing the news that still holds its grip on media today, “If it bleeds, it leads”. It just may be an inevitable part of human nature. And, is so, how do we change that?

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  2. I share your sentiments. The news can be very depressing. Most news is for profit. That means sensationalism is king. NPR is a bit different. It has a measured tone and devotes enough time to stories to provide decent analysis.

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  3. Life is stressful enough so I don’t actively watch the news. Never did. Am still up to date just from being on the internet. News is different depending who owns the TV station or funds it or which country it is coming from. The whole concept of News needs changed. Because the current system breeds fear and incites hatred in some as well as a doomed feeling or helplessness to change things.

    They could have news where there was nice stories too which would give people hope for the world. It would also make people kinder and happier and more hopeful in general., They could feature humanitarians or singers and artists or nice places or whatever. They could also include local features.

    There is way too much scaremongering in the news to keep people constantly gripped in fear and stressed out. Life is too short to fill your head with that. There is also too much brainwashing in the news. Equally we do not even see most of the really horrific stuff that happens in the world on the news. Only stuff with a political angle. There is also an emphasis on war . The news also can be very racist depending on which channel you watch.

    Often there is censorship or media blackout or you see a news story that is more like the opposite of what happened. News is often political and for profit and therefore has an agenda. Throughout history are examples of news headlines that had an agenda behind them. And constant watching of the news, reading papers and seeing news online does influence how people think.

    In saying that some news is very well done and balanced and neutral and it is good to know what is going on in the world. However the news shows a teensy amount of what happens in the world. Agree it is good to be informed. But not to the point it is stressing your mind and body. As individuals I think the news has a part to play in informing us about what is happening on our planet as you cannot live life in a bubble. You do want to be educated and informed. But at the same time be able to rationalise and seek other viewpoints.

    I don’t have a TV and don’t watch the news. But you can’t miss it anyway as soon as you go on the net. Half the time you don’t know if what you are seeing is real anyway or just what someone else wants you to see. There are some really bad things happening in the world that you will never see on the news because some voices are never ever heard. I agree with your idea of leading with a feel good story and balancing the news with weather and sport and business and art and wellness. Have to say I have rarely seen Art and Wellness on the News!!! I think the best thing for overall Wellness is to avoid it!

    When we are all 6 feet under, the news will still be trundling on blasting out sensationalist headlines keeping people gripped in fear! While we are alive we should not be ruled by “The News”. I mean who’s news is it? If we all had our own news stations they would all be radically different. Maybe you need a break from the news! You could put a time limit on it!!!

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    1. Thank you, Anne-Marie, for such a thoughtful response. It seems like you have thought about this issue before. I appreciate all the advice, and as you note, I think I need to cut back on the amount of news I consume. If I do, does that mean I have to find something else to worry about? ๐Ÿ™‚

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      1. I have an older friend who is addicted to the News. She has a 24 hour news channel and watches news from different TV stations. She is really into politics and also human rights. She knows a lot about what’s going on in the world. She reads different papers as well. It’s just something she is passionate about. It doesn’t get to her though cause she generally has a very active life and she does step away from the news sometimes! But I know some older people watching the news all the time and it seems to depress them. It’s like an addiction for a certain generation! I am sure you will get the balance right. ๐Ÿ™‚

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    1. Hi Tandy, I don’t believe our local news reports a fraction of what would be headline news for Sky News. We are kept in the dark about a lot of things, especially crime. Enjoy the state of the nation address tonight.

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      1. Hi Jim, I think it is important to know what is going on in the world around you. Ignorance can get you hurt or even killed. I do prefer to know than not too. I don’t see it as being depressing, I see it as being informed, alert and able to take care of my boys and myself. Even with your news, if you don’t know you can’t take any action. The authorities have mislead the population of the world about global warming for years and now we have climate change. I’m just making my point as I see it.

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  4. Hi Jim, the news is meant to inform people so they are aware of the issues that face them and their country. If you aren’t informed you can’t make proper decisions. We know there are at least 50 murders a day in South Africa, but you will rarely see any of them reported in the main stream media. You have to look for these cases on-line. That isn’t right because people are not as aware as they should be. We have the same with our power outages which they mislead us about so you can’t plan your life. I view the news in this light rather than as depressing or negative. To me, it is a lot more depressing to not know about things and to end up with problems in my own life as a result of that ignorance. Just me view, of course [smile].

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      1. Yes, I do take your point, Jim. People do milk the bad, I understand that and I don’t like it, but I still prefer to know the story and access the facts, than not to know. PS, I don’t mean to sound hysterical but I have heard two stories of moms and kids being held up at gun point today at traffic lights. It is very frightening.

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  5. I have tried to avoid watching too much news since retiring. I try to keep up on local issues, but it is challenging not to take a look at the daily soap in DC. I need to crawl back out of the swamp and head out to pristine Montana.

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