Tuesday, July 08, 2008

Should There be a Good/Bad News 50-50 Rule?

The Romanian senate passed a law last week requiring the media to provide their audiences with 50 percent positive news. The bill’s creators say the law will help fight the harms of negative news and its effects on people’s lives. But Romania’s National Council for Audiovisual Broadcasting, the group that will be responsible for deciding what is positive and negative, has criticized the bill, stating that news should reflect reality – whether positive or negative – independent of any laws.
Would the news media and its consumers in your region benefit from such a law? Is a balance of positive and negative stories something news outlets should strive for?

The International Journalist Network h
ad an online forum and so far only three reponded (the other one is in Spanish):

Ioana | 07/07/2008

Why shall we speak about "quotas" when the law operates with concepts alien to any journalistic decision, such as "positive" and "negative"? How many times in our debates in the newsrooms have we used these terms when deciding upon a piece of news? The law simply disrespects the journalistic instruments, values and work, being therefore unacceptable.

Sorry, I forgot to mention: I'm Romanian (and very furious, of course :))

Dani | 07/07/2008
Sometimes news reporting does seem to be wholly comprised of negative stories -- death, destruction, etc. While these negatives are realities of life and essential for fair and honest reporting, it does seem that many of life's less catastrophic events -- stories of hope and inspiration -- hardly ever grace the pages of our news sources. Yet, I fear quotas and wonder what stringent regulation might beget. How many “negative" or "positive" stories might be omitted in a news world driven the 50/50 rule?

What do others think about the dangers of quotas? What about the dangers of judging news stories in such black and white terms (positive/negative)?


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