From Jerry to the GFC, it’s time for some good news
The only time I’ve had people literally storm out of a presentation I was giving were news and current affairs producers at a commercial television network. My faux pas was telling them that the Australian viewing public was keen for positive stories that depicted the best, rather than worst, of our society. Furthermore, I predicted this trend to be a growing one.
It’s not that bad news does not attract viewers’ attention. It does. When there is motor vehicle accident up ahead drivers cannot help themselves but slow down to have a peak. But they don’t feel good about themselves for doing so. Similarly on television we watch those embarrassing themselves, acting outrageously or being publicly shamed. But here to, we don’t feel good about ourselves for doing so.
What the public is yearning for is optimism and positivity – reinforcing the good bits of life. When discussing the global financial crises throughout this year the consistent message was that Australians were simply switching off from the bad news.
The media was seen to constantly hype up impending disaster, leaving the viewing public to feel impotent seeing they could do little about it.
In their own lives - something the media is not offering sufficiently - they are determined to see the glass half full; to celebrate the positive.
The baby boomers, whose savings have dwindled away of late pushing back their retirement plans, were most vocal of all about this. A common response in group discussions to their financial woes was for someone to say they had been reading Ekhart Toltze’s The Power of Now and applying it to their own lives, and everyone else would nod in agreement (or quickly jot down the title).
We’ve evolved from talk shows such as Jerry Springer or shock jocks like Kyle Sandilands who reflect the worst of our qualities. People speak highly of Hamish and Andy and Rove for their lightness and their ability to make fun of people without resorting to cruelty.
Rather than the humiliations once the hallmark of Big Brother we would rather see the successes of Masterchef – where ordinary people are applauded for achieving their dreams. Where we celebrate winners rather than denigrate losers.
The old standard for news producers is that bad news sells and good news doesn’t. Bad news may still sell – but the market is wide open for the good stuff. (And if you got this far in the piece – thank you for not storming out).
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