Why The News Is A Waste of Your time

fear_tvIt’s not what’s important; it’s what’s selling.

How does the news keep your attention? With negativity, shock, and sensationalism.

Warren Francke, a journalism professor at the University of Nebraska at Omaha, designed a study that revealed just how essential negative storylines were to editors of newspapers. That study was described in the book Sensationalism, where the authors wrote:

Francke’s study found sensational content was printed for entertainment and in order to sell newspapers, but editors rarely admitted that these were the reasons for including sensational content. An interesting finding in Francke’s study was that if crime news came in without grotesque details, the editors often would add them. Most criminal cases were not seen firsthand, so the editors would imagine the crime scene and would add in “the rotting body” or “brains thrown throughout the room.”

In addition to Francke’s research, I have also heard a popular tale about the Great Chicago Fire of 1871. As the story goes, the newspaper that covered the fire sold faster than any paper before it. A savvy news editor realized this and began to write negative headlines with great success. After that, the lesson was clear: negative news sold well.

Keep reading.

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  • Liam_McGonagle

    On the other hand, they deliver a reliable product. You can be totally confident that it’s all sh*t.

  • Charlie Primero

    The worst aspect of TeeVee News is how much of your time it wastes.

    Using RSS feeds, the news comes faster, is more concentrated, and you can subscribe to curators who work to edit out content you don’t want such as rescued kittens and ridiculous left/right political theater.

    I like http://feedly.com

    • atlanticus

      You need a Google account for it? And you buy Walmart food…I’m sensing a pattern here…

    • TC2865

      so i just a need a more potent, concentrated dosing of news? more stories, more articles, more more more more this is the answer?

  • InfvoCuernos

    I tune in to the cnn and fux every now and then just to see what they want us to believe. Remember “First liar loses”. If you know they are lying then you can eliminate what they say as possibly true. When they say someone is threatening the US, you can bet they are about to get creamed.

    • Anarchy Pony

      The real way they fuck with people is the way they frame a story, and what they are leaving out. That is far more dangerous and effective than outright lies.

      • kowalityjesus

        Half-truth, our true enemy. Dr Bronner

  • Simon Valentine

    it boils down alright
    a four clique it becomes
    people just being themselves
    instead of what they are
    it’s no wonder represent
    it’s no achievement felt
    it’s a heartless slob job
    with and without no one
    anyone who understands the basics, anyway
    is doing entirely something else

    remnants of “job”
    fallout of “…
    oh, that’s right
    the basics were left for dead so long ago

    if all jobs ended
    and everyone stayed at home
    what in fact would happen
    if all were free to roam
    and how could it not be so already

    there is no government
    just a stupidity crutch for ignorant stick bundlers
    “oh but look my lord we invented pick up sticks”

  • Dingbert

    More importantly, though:

    “Nine tenths of the news, as printed in the papers, is pseudo-news, manufactured events. Some days ten tenths. The ritual morning trance, in which one scans columns of newsprint, creates a peculiar form of generalized pseudo-attention to a pseudo-reality. This experience is taken seriously. It is one’s daily immersion in “reality.” One’s orientation to the rest of the world. One’s way of reassuring himself that he has not fallen behind. That he is still there. That he still counts!
    My own experience has been that renunciation of this self-hypnosis, of this participation in the unquiet universal trance, is no sacrifice of reality at all. To “fall behind” in this sense is to get out of the big cloud of dust that everybody is kicking up, to breathe and to see a little more clearly.”

    -Thomas Merton

    • flipdog

      “Reality is a description.”

      -don Juan

  • Sean

    This is why I scan the Drudge Report daily.

    Purely out of curiosity….to see what my fellow Americans consider the news of the day.

    It’s astounding how much xenophobia, racism, homophobia, and every other form of bigotry and sensationalism is on the DR. The whole thesis of the site is “BE AFRAID! BE VERY AFRAID! YOUR NEIGHBORS HATE EVERYTHING YOU STAND FOR! THEY WANT TO DESTROY WHAT YOU LOVE! BE ANXIOUS! WORRY! BE AFRAID! AND….GET ANGRY! DESTROY THEM BEFORE THEY DESTROY YOU!!”

    The all caps only slightly hammers home the message.

    I actually read a study recently that said the large majority of people who visit the Drudge Report daily….use that site as their ONLY source of news. That is astounding.

    What’s even more astounding, the study found that 3/4ths of Drudge’s readers…..don’t even click the headline links. They simply spend 10 minutes scanning the headlines….and consider that their daily intake of news. They don’t actually read the articles.

    What makes that especially creepy is the fact that Matt Drudge often rewrites the actual headline of the story. He’ll often write headlines that say things like “Gay black teen thugs wearing Obama t-shirts beat elderly Christian women to death.”

    In fact, almost every single day, he has a story about some random black person committing some random crime against some random white person. Considering the MASSIVE amount of violent crime in the US, it’s interesting that Drudge ONLY posts stories about blacks violating whites. In all the years I read his site, I’ve never once seen a story where it was the other way around.

    How is that news? It’s not. Drudge simply wakes up in the morning, scrolls through the day’s news, cherry-picks the most sensational stories he finds, and rewrites the headlines to pander to his bigoted fearful elderly Christian conservative audience. That’s…..it.

    It’s quite literally propoganda. If that isn’t propoganda….what is?

    I’m actually working on a painting right now. It’s a 3′ x 4′ canvas painted in acrylic….of a screenshot of The Drudge Report. There’s something slightly creepy about the Web 1.0 early HTML style of the page too….

    • Sean

      Thought you all might find this interesting….
      It’s a collection of Drudge Report headlines I’ve collected.
      Any time I see a particularly salacious, fear-mongering, bigoted headline….I copy and save it.
      Here are just a SMALL few of the thousands I’ve saved….
      ———

      Conservatives and Moderates Close to Open Revolt…

      Stuntman Stabbed on Set of Brad Pitt Movie…

      ‘It’s all fallen apart’…

      Scientists: Knees Predict Weather…

      JACK IN THE BOX Customer Attacks 68-Year-Old Man Over Packets Of Ranch Dressing…

      WALMART: Food Stamp Shopping Spree Was ‘Right Choice’…

      FOR SALE: HUMAN HAIR, BREAST MILK, EGGS…

      Netanyahu makes case for a preemptive strike on Iran…

      PLAYING GOD: 5 million babies born thanks to ‘assisted reproductive technologies’…

      Vandals Spray Paint ‘Healthcare For Everyone’ On NH GOP Headquarters…

      Transgender woman sues after being denied free mammogram…

      Bob Geldof: ‘All humans will die before 2030’…

      Families worldwide hoard cash preparing for collapse of society…

      Lawmaker cites similarity between Greek neo-Nazis and American Conservatives…

      SHOCK: Infant raped at daycare center…

      Soldier stabbed to death in possible hate crime…

      DNA Expert: Creationists are like flat-Earthers…

      Socialist dream in Venezuela crumbles…

      4 US soldiers killed by Afghanistan bomb…

      Female Streaker Shocks Crowd During Golf Tournament…

      Muslim Brotherhood growing among US Arabs…

      2 Men Shot While Camping Out for New AIR JORDAN Sneakers…

      Storm Gathering…World Economy Close to Collapse Says Expert…

      Rep: Obama admin caught sending porn to staffer…

      BLACK TEEN UNEMPOYMENT 20% HIGHER THAN WHITES…

      PALIN: ‘Romney is man of God. Obama turned back on God.’

      Rise in violence ‘linked to belief in climate change’…

      Black Woman Arrested after Beating White Babysitter…

      Tangel: Tea Party is Bunch of ‘White Crackers’…

      Seth MacFarlane’s New FOX Sitcom Full of ‘Disparaging Portrayals of White Men’…

      Hollywood Panders to Gays: Ellen DeGeneres to Host Oscars…

      Hollywood Slump: Middle America Stops Going to Movies…

      DETROIT, ATLANTA: Black Crime at All Time High…

      Masked Student Filmmaker Shoots 8 Cops…

      Black Female Police Officer: Fatally Shootes Unarmed Homeless Man Who Called her ‘Bitch’…

      Teen with Muscular Dystrophy Beaten, Stabbed, Robbed, Dumped Over Hillside…

      Woman Attacked By Thugs in Central Park…

      Progressive activist threatens town hall with bomb…

      POLL: College Professor says Young Repupublican groups use intimidation and bigotry…

      Obama: HUMILIATION!

      POLL: Weiner goes soft…

      REPORT: Planned ‘secret sex bunker’ in Chicagoland…Owned by OBAMA Old Roommate!

      UK Gov’t stands up to Illegal Immigrants: ‘Go Home or Go to Jail’…

      Priest Carjacked At Gunpoint By Black Mob In Front Of Own Church

      POLL: Race relations have plummeted since O took office…

      HATING GOD: Atheist Group Calls for End to Military Chaplains…

      REPORT: Will ROBOTS Murder You in the Future?

      DEATH TRAIN: OUT OF CONTROL…

      Gay bar kicks out Christian protestors…

      NEW LIBERAL POPE SPEAKS: Obama approves!

      MOTOR CITY BLUES: Black Neighborhoods Falling Apart…

      TRAYVON: POT BEFORE SHOT, Teen Smoked Marijuana Before Encounter…

      TRAYVON CRIME WAVE: Black Mobs Feared Following Verdict…

      TRAYVON GIRLFRIEND: ‘Man this aint worth f–kin dealin wit’…

      MILE HIGH CITY: Lawmakers Fear Colorado Pot Apocalypse…

      Rihanna Rages…’Cut that s–t out!!’

      Satan Worshipper Gets Life in Prison for Killing, Skinning Mom…

      POLL: Democrats Losing Faith in God, American Dream…

      POLICE: Baby Hospitalized After Eating Grandmother’s Meth…

      Rapper Films GRAPHIC Forced Feeding Demonstration…

      Family Finds Pot, Pipe in BURGER KING Kids Meal…

      NEVER SAFE: Homeless woman knives subway rider…

      BLOODBATH IN CAIRO; 51 DEAD…

      Sexual assaults rampant…

      **WARNING GRAPHIC** Gang throws rivals from top of Cairo building…

      Florida Man Dies from Flesh-Eating Bacteria…

      JELLYFISH ALERT! Rare Lethal Jellyfish Wash Ashore…

      FOXNEWS: America’s No. 1 source for news…

      FOX Producer rips MSNBC as “Puppet for Obama’…

      Food Stamp use on rise under Obama…

      HIV Baby Born to Prostitute Mother, Campaigned for Obama in 2008…

      CHICAGOLAND: 73 shot, 11 dead over holiday weekend…

      Black Man Stabbed Cabbie After Telling Him He Had ‘Bad Day’…

      1,043 shooting victims in 2013…

      Man electrocuted urinating on subway tracks…

      • flipdog

        in many ways I admire your dedication to this (and your general open-mindedness), but would bring to your attention a quote from John Michael Greer which may have some truth in it: “What you contemplate, you imitate.”

        Would be interested in seeing your painting, though, even if only in digital facsimile.

        • Sean

          It may take a while to finish the painting….but I’ll post it when done.

          That quote is very true. But…don’t think I personally spend a lot of time contemplating the Drudge Report.

          I just find it fascinating to study….from a sort of sociological perspective. The DR could easily be considered America’s #1 News Source. Why? Well…scan the DR in the morning. Then, listen to Right Wing talk radio in mid-day and Fox News at night. Drudge literally sets the tone of the day’s news for those other outlets. They report on whatever Drudge finds worth reporting on. Considering the massive(but…waning) popularity of talk radio and Fox News, and the tens of millions of daily Drudge readers….it’s astounding to think ONE GUY, Matt Drudge, literally sets the tone for what millions of Americans think about reality.

          The fact most only scan the headlines and don’t read the articles is also fascinating. It’s literally rendered the news to a collection of bumper sticker slogans.

          Personally, I indeed try to be open minded and positive. I don’t consider myself left or right wing…and I don’t get caught up in negative news. I just find it interesting…and existentially terrifying…in an entertaining way….how most people DO get caught up in that.

          I tend to spend my time listening to Alan Watts or Terence McKenna lectures and working on creative projects of my own.

          But, it’s interesting every now and then to pop my head out of my personal bubble and look at what others consider news.

          Read those Drudge headlines I posted above. If you actually thought THAT was a good representation of how reality is going, you’d be 100% certain the world is about to end any day now…and 99% of Americans hate you and hate everything you love and stand for. It’s sowing SO much fear and anger. It’s really astounding….

          My mom used to listen to Rush Limbaugh daily….and read the DR daily. I finally talked her into giving other news outlets a chance….and I introduced her to positive thinkers, like McKenna, for instance.

          It was amazing how much that changed her life and outlook. She’s now VERY progressive and much happier with life. She recently scanned Drudge one morning….just for old time’s sake….and was shocked at how devastatingly negative it was. Seeing it with fresh eyes showed her how mired in that negativity she once was. Glad she got out…

    • kowalityjesus

      If there were not an obvious bias the other direction in race-baiting from the lamestream, I would support your statement. For example, anyone could tell that they were trying to squeeze every last drop of racial division out of the Trayvon Martin case that they could. By deliberately editing Zimmerman’s phone conversation to make him look like a raging bigot and keeping evidence that Zimmerman had actually been assaulted out of view for as long as possible, they aimed to make this case as racially divisive as possible.

      • Sean

        I didn’t say the other side was any better. I just couldn’t write a whole thesis on both sides. I chose to focus on one side.

        Mainly for this reason…. I personally am not right or left wing…at all. I loathe both political parties. BUT…the sheer level of fear and anger on the Right seems way WAY more pronounced.

        I think to give everything some sort of false equivalency is dangerous…and plain wrong. Several studies have shown that conservatives respond more…and seek out more stories that elicit fear and distrust of others than liberals. That is a pretty easy fact to see demonstrated.

        It doesn’t mean the left wing is any better. They’re not. But, the focus on fear, distrust, and a return to the “real” America is absolutely a conservative thing.

        • kowalityjesus

          I didn’t imply that the media is liberal. I implied that the media is intentionally divisive, much like how you claim Drudge to be, except mostly on the opposite end.

          Though I also think the ‘left-right’ paradigm is not very applicable either, I generally agree that more people who are labelled “right wing” exhibit a greater propensity to xenophobia. However, accepting and granting political equality to massive quantities of genetically and philosophically diverse people has had a very real impact on American society. Without a force of conservatism, would we have continuity of our culture?

  • Haystack

    Sensationalism is one motivation for negativity, particularly in corporate media, but one of the issues with the blogosphere is that posters tend heavily toward maddening stories of corruption injustice–presumably, in hope that people in their audience will do something about it. The problem is that, most of the time, they can’t; and by bombarding them with all that maddening news, you’re breeding apathy. If the world is so hopelessly evil, why bother?

  • BuzzCoastin

    without the news
    what would wee comment on?
    on the other hand
    no one should mainline news

  • Juan

    I haven’t been able to watch that shit for years. I find it insulting and infuriating, so I leave it alone. Same with print “news” media as well. It’s all corporate-state propaganda and advertising.

  • rhetorics_killer

    News are good: they give people entertainment and a sense of being ‘happy’, first for not being in the news themselves. They provide a good bunch of tragedies so that fiction writers may not have to produce the totality of these craving needs; and they open the reign of fear, essential for political stability (at least in the point of view of power holders), by providing the deception of danger everywhere.

    For many, also, to read the news all along gives the feeling of ‘doing something with the brain’ (sic), of keeping active the sense of curiosity they were born with. Noowhere do they realize at the end of the day all of this is forgotten. The tv news rythm is essential to get this: with its habit of telling one thing after the other in an expeditive fashion it guarantees minimal remembrance of any relevant thing. Significant news are drowned under a fair amount of headlined futilities.

  • Otherworld

    Another distraction from real life and your own inner life.

  • http://www.mrpregnant.com/ Atelston Fitzgerald Holder 1st

    The news is gorgeous, magnificently entailed with enriched information, and it’s the readers mandatory objective to omit the debris and allow the substance to permeate; this problem has never been the news fault, it’s the sensationalistic translations by mediocre minds that predicated the tainted news-stigma.

    Written By: Atelston Fitzgerald Holder 1st

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