The News: To Fear Or Not To Fear
I guess they just can't stop. I get it, it's a slow news day, we've got to get something out and fill up the time. We use a news service here at the radio station and the headline to the first story in our regional feed today was
Upwards Of 28 Inches Of Snow To Come To Some Regions
And within the body of the story it self this dire prediction
The National Weather Service issued a winter storm warning for the cities of Cedar City, Beaver and Milford, and surrounding areas. Experts are forecasting upwards of 28 inches of snow.
Well, it's all over for Cedar City, Milford and Beaver. 28 inches of snow. We're doomed. The Snowpocalpse is here.
Just one little problem. As I write this in the afternoon, we seem to be about...hmmm...28 inches short of the snowfall this story said was coming.
Now to be fair, the National Weather Service did in fact issue a winter storm warning for Cedar City, Milford and Beaver....on Monday. Around 4 O'clock Tuesday morning, however, the folks at the National Weather Service Forecast Office in Salt Lake City, looked things over and said “meh” and dropped the winter storm warning Cedar City, Milford and Beaver but kept the warning in place for the mountains of southern Utah (think Brian Head). And even that warning for the mountains (issued at 3:35am) was expecting additional snow of only 3 to 6 inches.
The story we had came to the radio station at a little after 6am.
It's not just the inaccuracy of the story, although that's bad enough. It's the possible motivation of the article that bothers me the most. In a somewhat scathing article titled “If It Bleeds, It Leads: Understanding Fear Based Media” Deborah Serani at Psychology Today opened with this salvo
News is a money-making industry. One that doesn't always make the goal to report the facts accurately. Gone are the days of tuning in to be informed straightforwardly about local and national issues. In truth, watching the news can be a psychologically risky pursuit, which could undermine your mental and physical health.
Ouch. And I feel bad because there are many who work in the newsrooms across the nation who really do work hard and getting accurate information for the public to digest. But, as I've written before, fear keeps you locked in to the media, which is just where they want us.
Maybe I should take the position of an angel or messenger of God and begin every newscast I do by saying “fear not!” We need to not be in a panic mode when we consume the news of the day. If you look at the description of our show on our website it says “we may tell you the news, but we don't necessarily believe it.” Maybe that's why I'm not so afraid these days.