Leaving an impression
"'Behave as a citizen and a journalist: Report, write and edit
as if you care about where you live.'" - Geneva Overholser, quoted in Robert J. Haiman's Best Practices for Newspaper Journalists
Haiman points out that focusing on negatives is another form of bias. Maybe news is so frequently guilty of taking the negative stance because it's easier. Aside from the gloomy curiosity culture holds fast to, our tendency to lean toward fault-finding is not only a quick attention grabber but typically easier to pin-point. This attitude, I think, falls under a category of decision making in which a person chooses to a) complain about something or b) correct it.
Which do you think is the easier selection? A reporter's purpose is not to resolve or correct the "negative" in an article. I'm not saying that. I only mean it's less difficult to find the fault. Think how challenging it can be to spot the good within the bad - see the silver lining.
Is it more challenging to write a positive story? It might be. But Haiman explains, "They are finding ways to tell compelling stories about success, achievement, discovery and victory." People still believe what they see in print, and the focus of news impacts public understanding:
"Violent crime -- especially juvenile crime and violence -- has been dropping steadily since 1993. Overall violent crime declined more than 5% in 1999 and juvenile crime declined a whopping 11%. Juvenile homicides actually have declined 58% since 1994. And yet one-third of Americans believes that crimes by adults are on the increase and two-thirds believe that juvenile crime is on the increase. How could this be if the press was doing a fair and balanced job of reporting?"
By reporting the "good," reporters have the ability to impose a negative or positive impression upon their audience.