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Sharjah: Do you get a knot in your stomach every time you watch negative news?

Author, researcher and expert in positive psychology Michelle Gielan told audiences at the International Government Communication Forum (IGCF) on Thursday that the messages delivered through news have a large impact on the well-being of society.

“Three minutes of negative news in the morning can increase your chances of having a bad day by 27 per cent,” said the author of best-selling book ‘Broadcasting Happiness.’

“Problem-focused” versus “solution-focused” news can trigger different emotions, thoughts and views in people, she explained.

“Small messages can have an incredible impact on how we view community ties, the world and our place in it ... we forget how powerful solution-based news can be,” said Gielan.

Advocating “transformative journalism”, Gielan said while the industry’s positive impact might come from bad news or experiences, it is important to build an effective and influential communication system that is capable to foster change.

Considering that anxiety and depression levels have increased globally, there remains a common misconception that negative and sensational news increases viewers and is more attractive to advertisers.

“Research shows that transformative journalism raises ratings, sharing and most importantly attentive purchase of the products advertised by 30 per cent,” said Gielan.

Meanwhile, positive engagement can achieve public interaction and help change the behaviour of individuals, reflecting on the various issues that we seek to solve as a society.

Gielan referred to a study that found that more people are likely to share positive news content that triggers positive emotions — and therefore any ads that may be linked to it, raising the number of views.

“These studies show that yes, there is a business case in news reporting but there are also different reasons to consider. Solution-focused content is better for the collective happiness and well-being of society,” she concluded.