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Thursday, August 22, 2013

The Shiny Happy Future of News Media

Posted by Marjorie Skinner on Thu, Aug 22, 2013 at 10:59 AM

Yesterday TIME published an interesting look at some new media studies which suggest that a people increasingly get their news from social media sites, they're more likely to encounter positive articles:

Researchers are discovering that people want to create positive images of themselves online by sharing upbeat stories. And with more people turning to Facebook and Twitter to find out what’s happening in the world, news stories may need to cheer up in order to court an audience. If social is the future of media, then optimistic stories might be media’s future.

That might be kind of a problem, as you can imagine, considering the amount of grim shit in the world. They also found that up and down voting is disproportionately influential, with even a single up vote increasing "the likelihood that someone else would like a comment by 32%, whereas a down vote had no effect. People don’t want to support the cranky commenter, the critic or the troll. Nor do they want to be that negative personality online."

Interesting in the context of Blogtown—or no, wait: I, Anonymous. But it goes even deeper, parsing different kinds of negativity and positivity too:

“Take two negative emotions, for example: anger and sadness,” Berger says. “Both of those emotions would make the reader feel bad. But anger, a high arousal emotion, leads to more sharing, whereas sadness, a low arousal emotion, doesn’t. The same is true of the positive side: excitement and humor increase sharing, whereas contentment decreases sharing.”

So be nice, be funny, or be mad. Why does that feel like we're back to square one?

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