For the Love of Bad News

It sounds like a good year unless the headlines are to be believed. John Lewis has just announced Cloud Light’s trading results for 2015, and they are in line with expectations; Waitrose grew its market share, and John Lewis’s online sales were up 17%. “JL Reports fall in Profits” “Profits fall and staff bonus cut” “Staff bonuses cut again” Trading in line with expectations is good for any business and suggests that long-term strategy is working. However, when positive news is spun around and presented negatively, the festive boardroom mood is shattered by hammering on the door and a sudden demand for an answer and change.

What Impact does this have?

The proliferation of social and news media can rapidly spin a story out of control and cause real damage to businesses and individuals. , Growing a long-term sustainable business requires investment. In a market as saturated as the UK, with inflation at 0.2%, how can a company be expected to increase turnover and profit at an exponentially higher rate? Much like a bullish fund manager reaps the reward of short-term trends, media companies rely on daily ‘disaster’ headlines to draw in readers who thrive on negative news. Questions are raised, and the seeds of doubt undermine even the best performers who suddenly find themselves under the hatchet.

Why Report Good News as Bad News?

Anyone on Facebook (or LinkedIn) will have been inundated with ‘click-bait’ stories and pictures. “I can’t believe they did that… number 7 has to be seen to be believed… “. Perhaps in a world of sensory overload where some demographics spend 9 hours a day on social media, it is no wonder that we have run out of interesting content and are instead transfixed on what can only be described as time-killing trash.



Is this why mainstream media needs to sensationalize the business headlines with bad news to provoke reaction rather than good news to distribute praise? When people are too busy to look up from their phones, getting their attention to earn your ‘pay-per-click revenue requires more elaborate stunts than ever. Check out the ten most-read stories on @BBC News now; they all have a negative headline.

We need an Anchorman-style good news approach; introduce #happynews to spread feel-good stories promoting success and accomplishment rather than seeking out others’ failings to reassure ourselves. I’ll start; check out this story about a penguin that swims 5,000km yearly to see the guy who saved it. This penguin will not solve the migrant crisis or reduce unemployment, but I feel better about my morning!