CNN and Negative News Bias
Open letter to CNN and CNN International:
24 April 2006
Our good friends at CNN and CNN International unfortunately continue to exercise poor judgment in the matter of selection of headlines and regular news stories. A strong negative bias is evident–that is, a narrow focus on stories which portray conflict, aggression and divisiveness.
The most recent illustration is prominent coverage of something as irrelevant from the national (much less international!) viewpoint as the mayoral elections of New Orleans. That this topic is of neither interest nor value to viewers is evident. Rather, the obvious motive is to make this a source of conflict, based on memories and sore feelings over recent unfortunate events.
In short, what this demonstrates is that if there is not enough conflict or tension in the news on a given day, the media will manufacture it.
We hope to make CNN executives and staff more conscious of this general problem and that they will take initiative in addressing this policy.
Meanwhile, we commend their more positive special program series, which emphasize themes such as global development and new technology.
John S. Uebersax, PhD
Director, Center for the Cognitive Psychology of Peace and Conflict