byNetherlands Organisation for Scientific Research (NWO)

Negative economic news gets more coverage in newspapers than positive news and it has a greater influence on public opinion. This double asymmetry has far-reaching consequences, as evidenced by policymakers with ambitious plans.

I was certainly surprised to see that negativity is such a common thread running through everything, said Alyt Damstra, a communication scientist at the University of Amsterdam. Her automatedcontent analysisof all the economicnewsbetween 2002 and 2015127,120 articles in eight newspapersrevealed that negative economic developments lead to far morenews coveragethan positive developments.

She went on to research media usage and the opinions of over three thousand people in the Netherlands by means of a large panel survey in 2015. It revealed that negative news coverage about economics or policy leads to pessimism: peoples economic expectations become gloomier and support for the government declines. Positive news coverage, on the other hand, has no effect on public opinion.

Damstra presumes that policymakers sense this double asymmetry and that it has an inhibiting effect on radical policy measures. Phasing out mortgage interest tax relief, for instance, was a controversial issue for a long time. The fact that negative reports about a decline in spending power have a greater electoral effect than positive articles about a more inclusive housing market makes taking responsibility risky. You see the same thing in terms of the nitrogen crisis andclimate change: politicians prefer not to say that we ought to take fewer flights.

Damstra presented economic journalists with her findings in an interview study. Its almost impossible for journalists to breach these dynamics of negativity. The demand for interpretation and information is simply greater in an economic downturn. Added to that, positive trends often take place very gradually, whereas negative developments happen abruptly. Just think of bankruptcies and redundancies. By reporting negativity, they are being truer to the cycle of making news, in which the unexpected is more newsworthy.

The question is to what extent the findings are specific to economic news. Damstra thinks not: The dynamics between reality, news coverage andpublic opinioncan be successfully researched within economic dynamics, mainly because a lot of data is available. Consumer confidence has been measured on a monthly basis for decades; you can compare it with newscoverageand hard economic figures. But I think that negativity in other news works in exactly the same way.

News consumers differ widely in their preferences for negative or positive content

: Negative economic news gets more coverage in newspapers than positive news (2020, February 27) retrieved 16 March 2020 from

This document is subject to copyright. Apart from any fair dealing for the purpose of private study or research, no part may be reproduced without the written permission. The content is provided for information purposes only.

More fromPhysics Forums Science Articles, Homework Help, Discussion

Your feedback will go directly to Science X editors.

Thank you for taking your time to send in your valued opinion to Science X editors.

You can be assured our editors closely monitor every feedback sent and will take appropriate actions. Your opinions are important to us.

We do not guarantee individual replies due to extremely high volume of correspondence.E-mail the storyNegative economic news gets more coverage in newspapers than positive newsYour friends emailYour emailI would like to subscribe to Science X Newsletter.Learn moreYour nameNote

Your email address is usedonlyto let the recipient know who sent the email. Neither your address nor the recipients address will be used for any other purpose. The information you enter will appear in your e-mail message and is not retained by in any form.

Get weekly and/or daily updates delivered to your inbox. You can unsubscribe at any time and well never share your details to third parties.

Medical Xpress covers all medical research advances and health news

Tech Xplore covers the latest engineering, electronics and technology advances

Science X Network offers the most comprehensive sci-tech news coverage on the web

Science X Daily and the Weekly Email Newsletter are free features that allow you to receive your favorite sci-tech news updates in your email inbox

This site uses cookies to assist with navigation, analyse your use of our services, and provide content from third parties. By using our site, you acknowledge that you have read and understand ourPrivacy PolicyandTerms of Use.