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Here's The Bad News 04/04/2008

Bad News Network

If you think the news has gotten worse, it's because it has. Not actual events, mind you, but the way that the major news media reports the news.

A new study from John Lott, a senior research scientist at the University of Maryland, reveals that during the three-month period from July 2000 through September 2000, when an actual recession took place, there were 1,388 news stories related to a US economic recession. But in the last month, when there has been more media hype than actual bad economic data, there have been 3,166 such news stories. Even last year when the Gross Domestic Product grew at a phenomenal 4.9 percent there were 2,475 news stories pointing to a recession!

The result of all this negative reporting is an altered perception of the condition of the world. Part of this may be explained by the evolution of 24-hour news outlets and their never ending quest for more hype. Bad news gets more attention than good news, so to grab more viewers, they report more bad news and make things sound worse than they actually are.

Another more pessimistic explanation, though not without merit, points to a political agenda. Since people tend to vote according to their opinion of the state of the nation, a negative outlook bodes ill for office holders, while good news favors incumbents. Given that the major news media is heavily liberal, a politically motivated media would report more negative news when conservatives are in power and focus on positive stories to support incumbent liberals.

This might sound like a paranoid conspiracy theory if it weren't for the hard evidence. Lott's study found that with an expanding economy under a Republican president, there were 78 percent more negative news stories discussing a recession than during a shrinking economy under the most recent Democrat president.

Two prime examples of this type of reporting currently seen on your television and in your newspapers are the mortgage "crisis" and the global warming "crisis." Given the coverage of failed mortgages in the country, how many do you suppose are impacted? Fifty percent? Twenty-five? According to the objective British economic publication The Market Oracle, only .83 percent of mortgages are in foreclosure. The delinquency rate is higher than normal, but it's still less than six percent. That means that 94 percent are being paid in full and on time. Of course, if you are one of the six percent, it is a crisis for you (and if you expect the government to solve your problem, you are in for serious disappointment). However, it should be considered an obvious repercussion to a massive amount of high-risk loans. Bad loan practices, both on the part of the lenders and the homeowners, have (not surprisingly) led to a spike in delinquent loans. Even so, the majority of high-risk loans are not in jeopardy. But listening to the news, one would think that the average American family is losing their home.

The other popular media myth is that human activity is destroying the atmosphere. Clearly, pollution hurts our surroundings. Nobody argues that. If you live in Los Angeles or Phoenix, you know the harmful effects of smog. (American pollution pales in comparison to Mexico City, Beijing and most developing nations, but that's another story.) The widespread belief that people cause the earth's temperature to rise at an alarming rate and that this will result in a catastrophic planetary collapse can be traced back to one source: media coverage.

If Al Gore presents his doomsday scenario at a liberal university, it's a major news story. But when scientists determine that human activity has no measurable impact on global temperatures, as they recently did at the 2008 International Conference on Climate Change in New York City (just a few blocks from several mainstream news networks), they are ignored. Instead of objective news, we get indoctrination into the whimsical fancies of powerful media moguls.

In contrast, when bad news turns into better news, it falls off the front page. For example, the improved situation in Iraq means less Iraq news than prior to the surge, when things were not going well. When casualties were high and the outlook grim, it was the lead story. When the tide turned in our favor, the news disappeared or moved to the back page.

The lesson of all this is clear: Don't believe everything you read or hear. Instead of just believing everything that is reported, ask yourself, "Why are they reporting this in this particular way?"

As Christians, we have the added advantage of supernatural discernment. We can ask the Creator if His creation really is as bad as the media says it is. This requires a spiritual depth and wisdom that makes no sense to many of those in the media, but it's a lot better than blowing in the winds of controversy. Better yet, turn the television off, put the newspaper down and pick up a Bible. Instead of turning to the media to find out how bad things are, spend the time in prayer and let the Lord show you how good things can be. We will actually discover things we can do to make a positive difference, alleviate suffering, meet specific needs and wisely use, protect and conserve our resources.

If we would all do that, then we would spend less time worrying about things we cannot control and more time improving our lives and the lives of those around us. Wouldn't that be some good news!


Author: James Robison

Word Count: 815

About the author: James Robison is the founder and president of LIFE Outreach International, a Christian media ministry and mission relief organization. He and his wife, Betty, host of the television program Life Today; He has authored numerous books, including The Absolutes: Freedom's Only Hope and True Prosperity.

Media Contact: Randy Robison, editor at jamesrobison.net . Photo available upon request. Reprint rights granted with attribution for complete, unedited article. Revisions allowed only with approval.