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You Are What You Read

By Jodie Jackson

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Why changing your media diet can change the world

Publication date: April 2019
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About the book

Do you ever get that feeling of overwhelming hopelessness, the moment you switch off the evening news? Do you get sucked into a state of sadness about the world we live in, without any hope for its future? Does it make you want to ignore the headlines, but leave you guilty for not engaging at the same time? But is there, deep down, a nagging feeling that there must be another side of the story too – one that doesn’t get reported? Then bear with me, because there is good news.

I wondered all of the above when I first started researching the impact of news on our wellbeing. Perhaps unsurprisingly, I quickly learned that the news, quite literally, makes us miserable. At best, it leaves us indifferent, but more often than not, it triggers low mood and a passiveness that can even lead to anxiety and depression.

Things got more interesting when I looked into the effects of news about things that were not negative. Stories about progress and possibility, about hope and optimism. It turns out such stories motivate us. They kick us into gear and play into our natural desire to care. As a force for inspiration, the news can, in fact, be hugely powerful. But it requires us to change our media diet radically.

In this book, I show you how. First, by understanding the way in which our current 24-hour news is produced. Who decides what ends up on our front pages and in our social media feeds, and why does it matter in the first place? Next, we uncover a whole parallel universe, beyond what the news industry refers to as the “good news is no news” principle. Combining research from psychology, sociology and journalism with real-life examples, this book makes a compelling case for the greater inclusion of solutions-focused news into our media diet.

This is not a call for us all to be naïve and ignore the negative. Rather, it asks us to not ignore the positive. For every problem, there is someone, somewhere, trying to do something about it. Or at least thinking about what we should be doing about it. Only by including this ‘What Next?’ part of the story will we get to a better place – both in our minds and in the world.

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