Views on News

Owais Mughal

Photobucket Do you read news? Do you watch news? Do you listen to news? What do you get from all the news sources? In my opinion. these days news only mean reporting of crime, disasters, accidents and all the bad happenings in the World. The constant barrage of negative news from all around the world and through all major news outlets means making all human race paranoid. I am not a psychologist but still I can say with confidence that constant feeding of bad news is not good for our collective mental health. Why do news channels concentrate on negative news? My thinking is because fear sells. People get hooked to bad news even if not wanting to watch it. It is like this bitter pill which you can neither swallow nor spit.

There is another dimension to it. That is of time. With distances shrinking and communications improving a bad happening in a remote corner of the World can be broadcasted all across the globe in real time. People who listen or watch it get affected by it in real time while they cannot do much to control or improve the situation. In olden days when news travelled slow people in one part of the World would not have been affected by happenings across continents away.

Once a friend of mine suggested that if I wanted to remain tension free in life then I should not watch a certain TV news channel ….and i agreed. As I am writing these lines, I challenge you to go to the webpage of any major news outlet and see how many positive news you can find in their top 10 news items. Most likely none or a very few.

News is like an “Under Damped Control System” – a term I borrowed from Mechanical Engineering. It means the news story fluctuates a few times before settling down. e.g. in the news of a disaster – the figure of injuries or destruction usually starts low, then reaches an extreme before settling down to a final number somewhere in between. Therefore some times it does work to read your news later while the bad figures have settled down to a realistic number otherwise you’ll be reacting to the fluctuating news while it slowly settles down as in an under damped control system.

It is said – and I cannot confirm it but seems plausible that Napolean used to read/get his news 15 days later. The rationale was that all unnecessary and trivila bad news will become unimportant and die down in 15 days but the important news will remain important even after 15 days – and one can then react or take action on it. I am not sure how practical is 15 day limit in today’s World but I found it an interesting approach to protect yourself from trivia while reacting to the necessary.

I am hoping to one day see a news channel or a newspaper which promotes positive news e.g. development of infrastructure, acts of kindness in society, charity etc. Ofcourse bad news cannot be shunned completely but when the whole newspaper is only filled with crime and disasters then something is not right. News has become a cash cow feeding on people’s fears and paranoia. It has got to change.

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