As people move out of lockdown to face a difficult and uncertain struggle to exit from the COVID-19 pandemic, they will need to be informed, inspired and empowered to respond to social problems in a forward-looking manner.
Traditional journalism, however, has a negativity bias, focusing more on problems than solutions to fulfil its fundamental role as a public warning and power-monitoring system for societies. However, problem-focused reporting could lead over time to many people feeling demotivated, hopeless, desensitised, and even tired of the news. As COVID-19 peaked, for example, 59% of Britons avoided the news, with two thirds of them citing “bad effect on my mood” as reason.
COJO fixes that occupational ideology by focusing reporters’ attention on both solutions and problems. It has proven to be a powerful approach with concrete and material positive impacts on affective and behavioural responses.
Early evidence shows that this style of journalism leads to audiences to more engagement with the news, a stronger sense of hopefulness and optimism, and a stronger intention to take actions towards solving social problems.