On 15th September 2008, Lehman Brothers filed for bankruptcy.Sombrely dressed people walked out with their stuff and the financial crisis of 2008 came as a bad news everywhere. News companies everywhere reported on the unfolding drama with breathless enthusiasm. No, I am not going to be explaining here the causes of the financial crisis. There are plenty of other articles out there that do a better job than I could at that. Instead, I want to talk about how the media framed the economic crisis and what effect that coverage had on people's perceptions and behaviour.
Obviously, reporting about the financial crisis was bound to be dramatic. After all, this was the most important story of the century. But what did the media actually do to make their reports more exciting? Simple. They exaggerated everything they could, in order to create "sensational" headlines and grab viewers' attention. The narrative was clear: The global financial system was on the verge of collapse, and the entire global economy was headed for ruin. The economy tanked and the value of the dollar plummeted. It was the worst financial crisis since the Great Depression! Of course, this kind of rhetoric simply served to alarm the public and boost ratings for the news organizations involved. But it also stirred another powerful emotion in people: fear. And this feeling of fear and uncertainty helped fuel the Tea Party movement.
The power of fear in the media can be truly frightening. For example, a headline in the Economist in early 2009 proclaimed that the world was on the brink of a new Great Depression. This kind of hyperbolic language is all too common in the news these days. Along with the ability to build and maintain social consensus by disseminating knowledge through a common set of "frames". Frames are ideas or stories that help define the way we think about the world around us and shape our views about important social issues like climate change and immigration. Through repetition and reinforcement, these frames become deeply entrenched in our minds and are difficult to change. And it can have serious consequences. Studies have found that this kind of alarmist language can encourage people who are different from themselves to be a threat. It can also lead them to seek out information that confirms their worst fears while ignoring the facts that are staring them in the face.
There is increasing evidence that post-crisis, populism and extremism has gained ground around the world. An upcoming book, called "Age of Discontent" describes how the discontent and despair that characterized the early stages of the crisis evolved into a growing sense of frustration among the working classes across the western world. The modern news landscape also exacerbates the emotional consequences of economic troubles. From economics to emotions, to culture, to politics, they assert that this mediated framework explains a lot about the discontented politics of the Great Recession (2008).It's clear that the design and dissemination of information and news can have a significant impact on shaping people's understanding of the world. As we continue to navigate this digital age, it's important to be aware of the cognitive biases and misinformation that can influence our perceptions and beliefs.
The question then arises, how is this affecting the way we understand current events? What effect does this have on our political views and belief systems? And ultimately, how can we ensure that the information and news we consume are accurate and reliable? These are important questions to consider as we face an increasingly complex and interconnected world.The struggle is no longer isolated, but rather shared allowing people from anywhere in the world to partake in a trauma as suggested by Psychologist Alison Holman.
Social media brought these struggles into everyone's eyes, and it brought to light an uncomfortable truth about how the lives of many people in the world are vastly different than our own. Now more than ever, we need further research to understand why the events of the past few years have significantly impacted the lives of people across the world.
The problem is news has a design problem, bad design is a function of the broken news ecosystem. To inform a readership/viewership and commercial ecosystem are a conflicting arrangement. How the news companies navigate this is going to be challenging but our common future depends on it.