NBER paper: Why Is All COVID-19 News Bad News?

NBER paper: Why Is All COVID-19 News Bad News?

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Why Is All COVID-19 News Bad News?
Bruce Sacerdote, Ranjan Sehgal, and Molly Cook
NBER Working Paper No. 28110
November 2020
JEL No. I12,J01

w28110.pdf (nber.org)

We analyze the tone of COVID-19 related English-language news articles written since January
1, 2020. Ninety one percent of stories by U.S. major media outlets are negative in tone versus
fifty four percent for non-U.S. major sources and sixty five percent for scientific journals. The
negativity of the U.S. major media is notable even in areas with positive scientific developments
including school re-openings and vaccine trials. Media negativity is unresponsive to changing
trends in new COVID-19 cases or the political leanings of the audience. U.S. major media readers
strongly prefer negative stories about COVID-19, and negative stories in general. Stories of
increasing COVID-19 cases outnumber stories of decreasing cases by a factor of 5.5 even during
periods when new cases are declining. Among U.S. major media outlets, stories discussing
President Donald Trump and hydroxychloroquine are more numerous than all stories combined
that cover companies and individual researchers working on COVID-19 vaccines


The U.S. has a culture of perpetual outrage. People who are outraged all the time seek news to confirm their outrage.

Similarly, those who suffer from anxiety all the time see news to confirm their anxiety.

Literally, those of us in the U.S. seek out news that confirms our outrage and anxiety – rather than addressing our outrage and anxiety in a logical and rational manner. The above study notes that news consumers appear to demand negativity.

With web news, the content producers track everything – and they know that the more negative news they produce, the more clicks they get, as they fulfil the public’s desire to confirm their hysterical fears.

The basic problem is that news staff are sociopathic – they encourage negative behaviors by reporting day in and day out that “Everything is awful”, “Everything is a crisis”. The news media is grossly irresponsible and seems to employ sociopaths that get kicks out of destroying them mental health of entire populations. The media is beyond worthless – the media it outright harmful.

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