Switch on your television and browse the different news channels on it. You will expect news that is informative, well researched and has some substance in it but you will come across people shouting at each other and talking about useless or polarizing topics. Every news item is grossly sensationalized to grab eyeballs and flood your brain with information that upsets you. It is natural that you will feel stressful after a while of watching this senseless conundrum being called news today. Last time I flipped through some of the most widely watched channels on television, I was surprised to see total nonsense like tantrik methods to steal a lover and a politicians lost cow being searched for like it was a terrorist, being passed for news. It made me shake my head in disbelief and made me stressful and angry. Is this is the level of Journalism today in our country? I decided to compile a list of thing that can make you stressful when you watch television news today, which I prefer to call “exploitative journalism”.
This is why Television news can make you stressful-
- Stress is contagious– You cannot escape seeing a tragedy like a plane crash or a bombing once every while on the news. It happens. News channels try to cover tragedies with an intention to create maximum impact and shock value for the viewers. If you are a compassionate person who feels the pain of another individual, even if he’s a stranger, you will get upset and it will cause what is known as “empathic stress”. Watching such news items can literally transmit the stress shown on the screen onto your psychology for that time. For example, you might even get worried about friends or family who are flying on an airplane if you see a crash on the news, or get anxious about your own kids if you see a school bus getting hit by a train on a level crossing in the news. So it is probable that watching too much television news with exaggerated scenes of misery or distress can be blamed for increased stress levels.
- “Experts” shouting about useless things. The latest trend among news channels is to gather half a dozen so called experts to debate on an issue that they think is trending. The situation becomes worse than a fish market when 6 people are shouting at the top of their voices sometimes hurling abuses when they don’t know what they are supposed to say. For a viewer this is a surefire way of getting irritated and stressed because the bickering atmosphere draws him into the battle of the words. It becomes unbearable when the topic they are shouting about is mostly mundane things and the reporter is cunningly smiling at all the shouting people in the studio. They invite people, create a hostile environment filled with stress, and then just enjoy the show. All they care about at that time, is that their TRP should be enough to beat the popular serial’s TRP in that time slot. It can spoil even the best of moods and give a person enormous stress and tension.
- Sensationalizing and dividing people. It has also become common for news channels to exaggerate and create hype so that they can polarize people based on their different circumstances. Be it religious beliefs or even social status, news channels will always try to capitalize on the disharmony created by showing things of sensitive nature because they only care about the traffic or TRP (television rating point) generated by such yellow journalism. This not only causes stress for the viewer, it can also create an atmosphere of hostility among an otherwise peaceful community.
- Fake news to grab attention. Not everything that you see on television news is true. Many news stories are either totally fake or fabricated for getting TRP’s. News channels create sensational news stories out of thin air without much research or fact finding. When you watch news stories like these, you are bound to be misinformed and it can result in an argument with someone who is right and this will cause stress for both people. Another very annoying thing that creates stress is that they keep repeating the same clip over and over while they continue to talk about it in long-winded and really boring ways.
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The way I see it, there are only two ways you can go about this as far as news channels are concerned. Except for the tragic news that cannot be taken in a lighter vein not matter if it is big or small in scale, you can either get angry and upset at each news story designed to make you emotionally invest in it and feel stressed, or you can laugh at the idiotic reporters who are babbling nonsense for hours and take the whole thing not as news but at entertainment. I would suggest you watch a different or better news channel that focuses on the essential issues at the local and world level, but the truth is that all channels have succumbed to the lure of sensationalism today. They have to do better (or worse in my opinion) than the other channel showing the same news event in order to attract more people to see them.