Is ‘The News’ making us paranoid?

“Entertainment has superseded the provision of information; human interest has supplanted the public interest; measured judgment has succumbed to sensationalism.”

- Franklin, ‘B, Newszak and News Media’, (1997)

If you regularly read or watch the news, it’s easy to feel like there’s danger around every corner. Every time you step on the London Underground you’re looking around, trying to identify any suspicious backpacks that could contain bombs. When you walk the streets in the dark of night you quicken your step and plan your escape route if you so much as sense another human close by.

“News develops a life of its own and that the complex process of news selection and production is partly guided by other factors than reality.”

Terrorism, and particularly Islamic extremism, is something that is extremely prevalent in the media. A Chapman University survey in 2016 found that terrorism was the second highest fear of most Americans (‘corruption of government officials’ was the first). However, The New American Foundation reported that Islamic extremists had actually killed just 94 people between 2005 and 2015.

Screenshot from The Guardian, 23 September 2019

So what can we do about it?

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