Tell us a bit about yourself why you chose psychology as a course?
I chose to study positive psychology as I felt from personal experience that the news had an adverse effect on me to the point where I almost stopped watching it and I wanted to understand better the psychological impact of the news.
Why do you think positive news is so important?
Mainly because I think the news is so important. The purpose of the news is to engage and inform the public in a way that empowers them to be able to act and make decisions on the information presented. If people are tuning out because they find the news too depressing (which is the biggest cited reason for disengagement) then the news is no longer serving its purpose and it is important to find ways to re-engage. Positive News has been shown to do this.
In your opinion, do you think the media manipulates the public?
Agenda setting theory shows that the news set the national narrative by telling us what to think about - the more an issue is covered, the more important it is perceived to be. Not only this but they tell us how to think about the issue through the frames used to tell the story. I think manipulation may be a bit strong but they certainly influence the public and that is something, as a consumer, that it is important to be aware of.
How would you like to see constructive journalism in the mainstream more?
I would like to see it become a classic component in news reporting rather than a niche part of journalism. Constructive journalism is about a totality of storytelling that includes problems and solutions. It is also about the way in which these stories are told; not overstating their impact or sensationalising them in either case.
As individuals how much power have we got when it comes to the media narrative?
Increasingly more power. The news industry will follow audience engagement, if we engage with a more constructive approach to the news, they will respond to this demand. It is important consumers know why solutions focused journalism is important. The information we feed our mind transforms into our thoughts, opinions and beliefs - it is important that we are more conscious about what we pay attention to.
How do you feel about social media and its impact on people's views on the world?
I think social media can be a good thing, it can be a bad thing - it depends on the users. I think that with regards to the news it can lead to sensationalism of headlines as they create "click bate" content to attract attention which may distort the reality of the story. However, this is not always the case and social media has shown that positive content is more likely to be shared and commented on than negative content so in that respect it is useful in creating legitimacy and demand.
Do you have any final words for people when it comes to how they consume media?
It is not so much how to consume media but why. This is the most important motivation behind any decision we make.
Why is it important to understand the psychological consequence of consuming the news?
Most fundamentally, the reason for this is because it does have a consequence. Research has shown that too much negative news can lead to anxiety, learned helplessness, lower mood levels, contempt and hostility towards others and in some cases, this negativity bias can lead to complete avoidance of the news. My research is showing that including solutions focused news as part of a balanced media diet is associated with increased levels of optimism, hope, resilience, engagement, active coping, effective problem solving, improved mood and altruistic behaviour.
ABOUT JODIE JACKSON
I believe that we all have an exciting potential to contribute to our own wellbeing as well as others around us. With a few simple tips and know how, we can have greater mastery over the direction of our lives and take greater pleasure in the adventure.
The full findings of my research can be found at http://www.jodiegabr.com/2016/04/06/publishing-the...
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