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Is the Sky Falling, or Are the British Coming?

Is the Sky Falling, or Are the British Coming?

The tropism of the media is to present bad news, and even to exaggerate average news until it is bad news. What do I mean? Well a story that’s titled, say, “Election turnout better than average” will have a subtitle that says, “But not as good as hoped for.” There’s always a “but” to neutral or good news, and always an element of overexcited danger to bad news. (It’s like, “You had an excellent academic year, but nowhere near how well your sister did.”)

Weather reporters, AKA “meteorologists,” aren’t simply known by those names anymore. They’re “storm trackers.” Hurricanes are forecast and predicted when they’re barely formed, and the predictions of “one of the worst hurricanes seasons ever is coming” are very rarely accurate.

The TV news features 28 minutes of mayhem and disaster, and then two minutes of a “feel good” story to end it, to show that they’re really optimists!

Why don’t some media present overwhelmingly good news? There’s plenty of it: medical breakthroughs, lives saved, philanthropic results, economic improvements, families reunited, addictions overcome, community relations improved. Because they feel it will hurt their ratings. Which hurts their income.

Personally, we ought to try to be the bearers of good news whenever we can. Try telling your clients, “You’re doing a lot of things right, for example….” After that, they’ll be free more willing to take you seriously about further improvement. But stop assuming everyone is somehow “damaged.”

The media are more Chicken Little than Paul Revere.

Written by

Alan Weiss is a consultant, speaker, and author of over 60 books. His consulting firm, Summit Consulting Group, Inc., has attracted clients from over 500 leading organizations around the world.

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