Tag Archives: reportage

The kids are, contrary to media coverage, all right

Why are there so many negative stories about teenagers in the media? Because that’s what older folk like to read.

Silvia Knobloch-Westerwick of Ohio State University gave 276 volunteers an online magazine to browse. She found that older people preferred to read negative news about young people, rather than positive news. What’s more, those older readers who choose to read negative stories about young individuals receive a small boost to their self-esteem as a result. Younger readers, in contrast, prefer not to read about older people at all.


We gravitate towards information that confirms our opinions, and tend to avoid that which will undermine or challenge us. It is just one of the many examples of cognitive biases at play in decision-making and judgment. Having our prejudices confirmed makes us feel better about ourselves, that is why we get the gleeful urge to say “I told you so”. This study may be most revealing because it does not demonstrate a general schadenfreude, but a one-directional, specific effect that should give us pause to think about the media’s coverage of young people.

It’s confirmation bias all the way down!

Investigative journalism to make an online come-back?

Following on from Tom M’s mention of Spot.us, the New York Times has an article on the organisations that may well end up replacing it. Local news websites like VoiceOfSanDiego.org are looking to beat both the current newspaper and web news models by returning to solid original journalism on the matters that matter:

Voice is doing really significant work, driving the agenda on redevelopment and some other areas, putting local politicians and businesses on the hot seat,” said Dean Nelson, director of the journalism program at Point Loma Nazarene University in San Diego. “I have them come into my classes, and I introduce them as, ‘This is the future of journalism.’ “

The problem being that, currently, online advertising doesn’t provide enough income to run a proper newsroom, even with the lower overheads of the straight-to-web model. But will that always be the case? I’d be a lot more tolerant of internet advertising if I felt I was getting decent content as a result of it.