Occasionally, an editor acknowledges what we all know to be true: that it's not the viewer's imagination -- the press really does prefer bad news to good news. As stories of crimes, political scandals and conflict fill the airwaves, one might wonder if the news media is making things seem nastier than they are. It's a point cognitive psychologist Steven Pinker has argued when he suggested that the coverage choices of the news media may distort our views. For example, we overestimate the number of tornado deaths since producers are suckers for catastrophic deaths, rather than much more common killers, such as asthma. Channeling sociologist Johan Galtung, Pinker contends that if newspapers came out every fifty years instead of daily, they'd tell the story of remarkable macro-strides, such as rising life expectancy and a dearth of world wars. But, instead, the news makes the world seem rather frightening.
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