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By Milos Djordjevic | May 2, 2020 | 0 Comments

17 Undeniable Negative News Statistics You Need To Know

Have you ever noticed how many negative news are shared daily? 

It’s starting to seem like if an event isn’t tragic or at least mildly depressing, it won’t make the news.

We’ve collated a plethora of negative news statistics, along with results from studies and reports that have analyzed the issue. 

This guide will give you an unbiased look at why the media reports negative news. We’ll provide you with an informed and educated overview of the subject in general.

Let’s dive in!

Top Negative News Need-To-Know’s (Editors Choice)

  • 95% of headlines have been reported to be blown out of proportion.
  • Approximately 1 in 10 adults in the US checks the news every hour.
  • In 2019 we saw an astounding 36% rise in media exaggeration.
  • An average of 79% of media companies print biased stories for advertisers.
  • Reports show 65% of news organizations ignore mistakes.

Scattershot: Negative News At A Glance

1. Approximately 90% of all media news is negative.

(Quora)

On a mass scale, most people tend to complain that the media focuses on negative news.

The reason for this could well be evolutionary.

For our ancestors to survive, they needed to focus on the negative news that surrounded them. Whether it was an impending storm, predator approaching or anything else posing a threat, any negativity could’ve been life-threatening. 

In the modern world, with the percentage of negative news stories being approximately 90%, it seems that we still prioritize the negative.

2. Sensational stories form 95% of media headlines.

(The Guardian)

Sensational news seems to be a pervasive element of modern-day news. In fact, it seems to be a requirement that most media outlets demand from their journalists!

The media itself has been proven to engage in media exaggeration, a practice that does more harm than good. The majority (95%) of headlines have been reported as being blown out of proportion!

Take for example airplane crashes. They always make the headlines, but car crashes hardly do. Yet every year, car crashes kill thousands of people more.

The reason for this distortion is that plane crashes kill more people in a single accident, then car accidents. Plus they make for more sensational headlines leading to an increase in media sensationalism.

3. Nielson ratings account for 50% of negative news statistics.

(The Balance Careers)

Most journalists attribute the Nielson ratings as the biggest reason that news reports are either sensationalized or are simply inaccurate.

The ratings boost viewership, which in turn attracts advertising dollars and investment. So as a result, many media outlets stress the importance of delivering negative and emotionally jarring news reports. This burden falls squarely on the shoulders of journalists, who feel pressure to deliver over exaggerated news stories.

4. In 2019 we saw an astounding 36% rise in media exaggeration.

(Business Insider)

Imagine this scenario: 

You’re a reporter. Violence breaks out in the county jail. Some inmates get hurt. 

A news conference is held, a sheriff describes what happened as an ‘incident’ keeping a lid on things.

You can either:

  1. Report the county jail story as an incident.
  2. Write it up as a “violent” occurrence, an “uprising” or a “riot”.

Which do you think will sell you more papers, gain more viewers, and boost your career standing? 

Indeed.

Bet you can name even more sensational media exaggeration examples.

5. Approximately 1 in 10 adults in the US checks the news every hour.

(Time)

Recent studies reveal that an alarming number of Americans check the news hourly.

So we most definitely shouldn’t underestimate the psychological effects of bad news

Doctors say that this type of constant news scanning can put the body in a state of stress. This can lead to anxiety issues.

The problem could lead to people forming a negativity bias, a condition that affects the overall outlook of an individual in a detrimental manner.

6. A Newspaper lost 66% of its readers when it published positive stories for a day.

(Quartz)

Russian newspaper, The City Reporter, decided to publish only positive stories in their publication for a day. The social experiment was undertaken in order to see the effect negative vs positive news stories have on people. 

Stories were all written from a positive stance. They included things like how the roads were clear despite heavy snow.

The result of the experiment led to the newspaper losing ⅔  of their readership! 

The newspaper workers were just as shocked as you are.

7. Studies show that headlines with bad news catch 30% more attention.

(Kinder World)

Negative media coverage reports show that negative words such as “bad,” or “worst,” and “never” are 30% more effective at catching people’s attention as opposed to positive.

The studies also revealed that negative words improved the average click-through rate. Headlines with negative bias showed a 63% higher result when compared to positive ones.

8. Reports show 65% of news organizations ignore mistakes.

(The New York Times)

65% of those asked thought that most media outlets purported cover-ups, ignored mistakes and engaged in purposeful misinformation practices simply to capture readership.

This bad view of the media lends to the already prevalent negative effects of media bias. It’s an ongrowing issue, that needs to be addressed. 

9. Around 26.7% of people that are exposed to negative news go on to develop anxiety.

(NCBI)

Exposure (repeated and even incidental) to negative news can raise internal stress levels and trigger anxiety, statistics of negative news show.

10. An average of 79% of media companies print biased stories for advertisers.

(ScienceDirect)

Studies from 2018 and 2019 reveal that many media companies would print a story about a corporation that gives them advertising revenues.

This discovery lends more weight to the argument that the media is less concerned with informing people, and is instead obsessed with lining its own pockets.

In fact, 79% of media companies were found to be operating under this principle of selective negative news articles that avoided advertisers. This accounts for a big percentage of the entire media being technically in the pockets of these companies.

11. Headline manipulation has been proven to double readership.

(IndustryWeek)

With headlines being the cornerstone of any new story and media outlet, it’s interesting to see how most outlets choose to adopt negative stances.

Take for example these two headlines:

“U.S. Industrial Manufacturers Expect Lower Growth Rates for the Next 12 Months.”

“U.S. Industrial Manufacturers Expect Growth Rate of 5.7% for the Next 12 Months.”

Which do you think was printed?

Negative news content sells, so of course, the newspaper chose to go with the first one.

Turns out, it will actually attract twice as many readers – something that almost all media companies both know and understand. 

This is exactly the reason why the media prints negative news – the public buys it.

12. The amount of negative news in the media has doubled in the last 5 years.

(Psych Central)

Statistics on the amount of negative news in the media have shown a sharp increase in the last 5 years.

The latest negative news stats show negative news to currently be at 87% and rising.

13. People are 49% more likely to read something negative than positive.

(NCBI)

Most of those aged 17 or over, have a tendency to gravitate toward negative information while disregarding positive one.

Reports show that 49% of people will most likely read something negative, which lends weight to negative article statistics.

Then we wonder why people are anxiety-ridden and depressed. 

14. Headline-grabbing with negativity is up by 28%.

(PNAS)

Instances of negativity being used as a tool for increasing readership by the media are increasing drastically.

2019 showed a 28% rise from 2018, in both in headlines and stories purported throughout the media.

This could be attributed to the fact that the main news outlets are in direct competition with social and online media who will post negative news stats first. They all aim to win viewers and readership.

15. Nearly 50% of teens believe the media has a negative effect on their age group.

(Pew Research Center)

Studies show that 48.7% of teens believe negative news affect their age group. 

As they are still young and processing the world, this could have lasting effects on their mental health.

16. The popularity of negative news headlines is 90% the fault of the public.

(Quora)

“If it bleeds, it leads.” 

This awful saying is one of the most common in the world of media. It’s the influence behind negative news headlines

News organizations exist to not just convey the news, they exist as businesses too. They need to sell stories to readers in order to function.

And unfortunately, good news just doesn’t sell. If you doubt that, just look at the results of the actions of a newspaper that tried to stray from negative news stories

This Quartz article (mentioned earlier in this guide) tried to print positive news stories for a day. It led to them reducing their readership by 66%!!

17. Approx 79% of media articles are not balanced in their arguments.

(The Daily Signal)

In theory, the news should be an unbiased presentation of the truth. However, in reality, the news is anything but that.

Studies show that the majority of articles are biased and represent a media distortion of reality.

Contrary evidence is often omitted, and 79% of media articles have been shown to be divisive.

Unfortunately, the majority of articles these days are written with an agenda in mind. This agenda is rarely to report the truth. It is more often than not, to first catch the reader’s attention and then to sway them toward a particular viewpoint.

The examples of negative news headlines that flood the media every day, show how the media distort reality on a regular basis.

Negative News Statistics - Typewriter

To Sum It All Up

As you can probably see from the underlying theme of most of the statistics and facts here, negative news is an engineered device.

They are prevalent for two main reasons:

Firstly, negative news sells. The public has proved that they have a bias toward the negative. More often than not, they find positive news boring.

Secondly, negative news statistics show that negative news can catch readers’ attention. Once on that proverbial hook, a reader can be swayed in whatever direction the reporter wishes them to go. The whole process is like sleight of hand, but with news as opposed to being a magic trick.

Negative news looks to be a mainstay in the media for some time. 

But how you respond to it makes all the difference. You might let your health be affected by exaggerated news, or you simply allowing the news to bounce off you. 

We hope, for the sake of your health and sanity, that you choose the latter.

People Also Ask

Q: Why Does the News Focus on the Negative?

(Quartz)

News outlets are businesses. They need to sell stories in order to survive and compete with the other thousands of news outlets in the world.

It has been proven that people prefer negative news over positive stories.

In fact, one Russian newspaper attempted a social experiment whereby they published only positive articles for 24 hours. 

The result? 

A loss of no less than ⅔ of their entire readership!

Which goes to show why the focus is on the negative.

Q: Why Do We Pay More Attention to Negative News Than to Positive News?

(Quartz)

It has been proven that bad news sells. As humans, we have a bias toward choosing negative information over positive. It’s a quirk from our ancestors that we still carry with us.

Q: What Is Bad News Bias?

(Wikipedia)

Bad news bias or negativity bias, according to Wikipedia, is also known as the negativity effect. It is the notion that even when of equal intensity, things of a more negative nature (e.g. unpleasant thoughts, emotions, or social interactions; harmful/traumatic events) have a greater negative effect on one’s psychological state.

Q: Does Bad News Travel Faster Than Good News?

(The Evening Standard)

Good news moves at a snail’s pace in comparison to bad news.

Upon hearing bad news, most people normally spring into some kind of reaction or action. They tend to have a heightened state of perception of such news.

In contrast, most people treat good news with a very flat response, with little or no emotions involved.

Q: Why Is the Media So Negative?

(Quartz)

The media is negative and likes to report bad news. So much so, that the careers of journalists depend on their ability to be peddlers of negative news.

But why is this? 

Simply because we made it that way. We effectively trained the media outlets to drip-feed negative news into our minds.

How did we do that? 

By showing less responsiveness to positive stories, and by showing higher levels of engagement and response to negative news statistics.

Sources: