For public relations practitioners, scanning media feeds is quicker and easier than wading through mountains of grubby newspaper print, but it’s becoming a depressing way to start the day. From my Guardian bloglines feed this morning – 26 of the 32 stories had a negative headline; with the others being largely neutral.
The British believe Bush is more dangerous than Kim Jong-il; Italy crime spree blamed on amnesty; two-thirds of teenagers too fat to be soldiers; fish stocks to disappear by 2048; £500,000 salaries put public sector chiefs in firing line; creator of web warns of fraudsters and cheats; minister rules our further help for pension victims; UK set for explosion in surveillance… – all hint at only negative news. I‘m not sure whether the feed writers are at fault, or if they are reflecting the angle taken by PR practitioners who originate many stories.
Even the “good news” is a mixed blessing. When Iraq is described as “a work of art in progress” by a US general – he is accused of putting a positive spin on worsening violence. Insolvency misery is seen to “boost profits for debt firms”. Not sure what to make of the Pollock painting selling for a record $140m or that Tom Cruise “bounces back in new role as studio boss” – there’s an undercurrent of criticism evident in both feeds. But maybe the fact that “people power flourishes in the US electoral system” and that (great story) wildlife activitists are using eBay to save the life of an Icelandic whale offer hope. Perhaps a citizen journalist approach will be able to offer more positive reporting. I’m not looking for “happy clappy” or bland, vanilla stories, but it would be good to see some balance or even objectivity in feeds.