When did you last see a good news story? We seem to have a diet of really bad news that never stops. Even when the presenter is talking about the latest disaster there is a ticker tape of sub-stories that expand to fill the vacuum of the entire day. It is just draining listening to or reading the stories that flood out of our media. I stopped watching a while ago now, and even though I buy the weekend papers, I tend to read the supplements rather than the main section. Thankfully though, there could be another way and campaigner and researcher Jodie Jackson wants to show us it.

First, though, you have to understand that psychology of why the media outlets produce the material that they do. Jackson goes into the details behind the headlines, why bad news rather than good news sells and the cumulative effect that this has on our mental well being. She addresses points on fake news, and churnalism, where journalists take a very liberal view of the truth in the rush to get the articles written for the ever hungry news machine.

She says that we don’t need to stop seeing bad news, being informed about significant world events is necessary, however, we need to limit our intake of it. What Jackson is advocating though is looking for alternative sources for your news, places that have taken the time to do the proper research about a topic, can write with a balanced view and are seeking to inform rather than just go for the sensational headline. Seeking solution-focused news sources that concentrate on innovation, initiative peacebuilding and positive responses to social issues need to make up a significant proportion of our media diet.

There are various methods and suggestions in the book that are very sensible. Stop reading the dirge from the media outlets that want sensational headlines and find those that have a more considered and balanced approach. Avoid the tabloids, they are preaching to a base level of readers as well as trying to dictate the political agenda in a lot of cases. Read from different perspectives on the same story. Don’t forget though, we as the consumers of this actually hold the power, if we stop buying and watching the worst news channels then they will change as they will lose customers and then income. Jackson writes with a positive clarity about a subject that most people find unpalatable these days, but more than that there are things that you can do to change your media intake and make you a better-informed person.

Paul Cheney 4/3

You Are What You Read by Jodie Jackson
Unbound 9781783527229 pbk Apr 2019