In this lecture Stuart Soroka will argue for the possibility of a shift towards more positive content, based on (a) heterogeneity in the ways in which humans prioritize and process information, and (b) changes in the technology used to disseminate and share news content.
On an average day in Europe, the newspapers are filled with negative headlines and news anchors across Europe open the news with the most negative events of the day. Indeed, the sentiment of news coverage is typically negative.
The talk draws on cross-national psychophysiological experiments conducted in 19 countries across the world including Italy, Denmark, Sweden, France and the UK, as well as online games capturing biases in attentiveness and learning, and automated content analyses of news content of the New York Times disseminated through different social media platforms. Results highlight the increasing potential for current affairs news coverage that is less systematically negative.
Stuart Soroka is Michael W. Traugott Collegiate Professor of Communication and Media & Political Science, and Research Professor in the Center for Political Studies at the Institute for Social Research, University of Michigan. Most of his research focuses on political communication, the sources and/or structure of public preferences for policy, and the relationships between public policy, public opinion, and mass media. His project on negative news focuses on the question whether the negativity bias, evident in our reactions to news content, varies across countries and cultures.