U.S. Media Readers ‘Strongly Prefer Negative Stories About COVID-19’
Why are Americans so prone to wallowing in despair? A new working paper from the National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER) doesn’t have an answer to that question, but it does provide plenty of evidence that the phenomenon is real: U.S. major media coverage of the COVID-19 pandemic has been much more negative than in other English-speaking parts of the world, in large part because of reader demand for unrelentingly bleak news.
NBER researchers found that 65 percent of scientific journal articles and 54 percent of non-U.S. news articles were negative in tone, versus an overwhelming 91 percent of U.S. media reports.
“U.S. major media readers strongly prefer negative stories about COVID-19, and negative stories in general,” wrote the authors of the paper, which is rightly titled, “Why Is All COVID-19 News Bad News?”
The tone of the coverage was only weakly correlated with the reality of the course of the pandemic: There were more than five times as many media articles about rising coronavirus case numbers as there were articles about decreasing coronavirus case numbers, even during the times when cases were actually declining.
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