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WCPO focusing on positive news to combat 'bad news bias'

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Posted at 5:57 AM, Mar 27, 2021

Positive news matters.

A year ago, I wrote about our new series called Acts of Kindness, which shares positive news with our community.

Today, our newsroom is more committed to sharing positive news than ever.

That’s partly why this New York Times article caught my attention this week. The article looks at “bad news bias” -- an over-indexing of negative stories in news coverage.

The numbers themselves are bad news, in my view.

A Dartmouth College professor studied negative news and found that about 87% of national news coverage last year was negative. I know we were in a global pandemic, but to me that is unacceptable and not at all accurate of our world.

Local and regional news in the U.S. was less negative.

Also, this sentence in the article stood out: “If we’re constantly telling a negative story, we are not giving our audience the most accurate portrait of reality.”

For several years, I have been saying something similar to our journalists and people in our community: “No neighborhood or area is all good or all bad. And if all we tell is the negative, we are not accurately reflecting our world.”

We want our journalism to give you an accurate representation of our community, and we also know everyone needs a smile in this dark world we live in.

So you can find Acts of Kindness in our newscasts and on our website every day. Kristyn Hartman’s Positively Cincinnati series continues every Wednesday. And we challenge our reporters every day to find stories about good things happening in our community.

We are beginning to use an internal computer program to track positive news in our newscasts and on our website. Measuring attributes like this is a way for us to make sure we are delivering to you the right mix of news -- one that tells a true story of our community without “bad news bias.”

We can control only our own coverage. Unfortunately, many other media organizations still over-index on negative news.

But we will do our best to be different and give you the best news coverage we can.

If you have good-news stories, please send them to newsdesk@wcpo.com.

And, as always, please feel free to contact me and tell me how we’re doing.

Mike Canan is the Senior Director of Local Media Content at WCPO 9. Contact him at mike.canan@wcpo.com. Follow him on Twitter or Instagram at @Mike_Canan.

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