JoyBinge Podcast Ep. 0: Pilot - Why We Need to Joy Binge
Hi and welcome to JoyBinge, a podcast where we re-learn that good things are happening in the world and celebrate those good things because we are tired of only hearing about the bad crap. Over the last couple of years, I have found myself less and less surprised by the crazy things getting reported every freaking hour across the globe. Since you are listening, I can only assume you are in a similar boat.
My name is Kimmy Mauldin and I am not a journalist. I never studied journalism, I’ve never written anything other than papers for schools and mostly failing blogs. BUT I am tired of feeling helpless, I’m tired of feeling pressured to always know what’s going on, I’m tired of feeling tired of the news. I’ve gone long periods of time not following THE NEWS and hated feeling disconnected. But getting connected means getting depressed and freaked out. Why is that? OH. It’s because there are NO good news stories. Ok, that’s not true. But there aren’t enough. I thought then that in order to force myself to find news stories covering good people doing good things, I would record them in a podcast form so I will always have these stories to look back on when I feel suffocated by the atrocities of the world. That’s where we are now.
Because I wanted this to sound all professional or whatever, I’m basically an old fashioned try hard, I took the entire summer to think of a good name. Well, to think of a name. After many ideas, I finally settled on Joy Binge. Mainly because I desperately need to binge on some joy. So there. We’ve got some joy to binge!
Many of the articles we will be reading today came from earlier this summer, not this past week which may be a bit of a trend. But to start us off, I wanted to highlight this article I found from CNN back on June 1st written by Alexandra Pattillo, talking about how Too Much Bad News Can Make You Sick. That’s what it’s actually called.
Obviously the news we see everyday is overwhelmingly awful. We’ve already discussed this. But the fact that we have news haunting us literally 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, that is downright destructive. Ever heard of balance, media? No? Well, stop it.
The article states, “...constant exposure to trauma can derail our ability to cope healthily and hinder our ability to return to a relaxed state.” The journalist goes on to quote Susanne Babbel, a psychotherapist who specializes in trauma recovery: “Every time we experience or hear about a traumatic event, we go into stress mode. We might go numb or have an overactive fear response to the perceived threat. Our physiology is triggered to release stress hormones like cortisol and adrenaline...Over time, when we experience this process again and again, our adrenal glands can become fatigued. Adrenal fatigue can lead to being tired in the morning, lack of restful sleep, anxiety and depression, as well as a multitude of other symptoms”. Sound familiar?
The worst part of this in my little opinion is that we grow use to feeling stressed about horrible events to the point of not caring any more. We can’t. We can’t care about all the world’s problems all the time. We have used up all of our caring abilities when we woke up and realized we had 10 alerts on our phones saying we forgot to send something to someone, there is an important meeting, don’t forget about that deadline, and oh, 100 people died in a tragic earthquake on the other side of the word, another person is missing in the town next to yours and did you know that looking at your phone first thing in the morning means you are a horrible person? SHUT UP PHONE. SHUT UP NEWS. I mean don’t really but also, cool it. Where are the good things??
Alexandra discusses the apathy in this article from CNN in an interesting way, “Inundation of news and trauma can also lead to what is known as disaster fatigue, making us less concerned and more apathetic and feeling a diminished sense of urgency about the crisis at hand. Disaster fatigue occurs when prolonged exposure to news coverage of disasters causes potential donors or volunteers to lose motivation to address the problem.” Good lord. Duh.
In my research for the need for more positive news reporting in our lives, I stumbled upon a wonderful podcast from The Guardian conveniently titled “Why is Positive News Coverage So Vital in Today’s World? The link will be included in the description of this podcast wherever it is posted or at least will be posted on my website, kimmymauldin.com. You need to listen to this if you are interested in this topic. It was informative, interesting and honestly, made me feel validated in my need for more good news. Sometimes I feel like I just feel too much and that others handle the sad and scary better than I do. FALSE. We all suffer with this in some capacity. We just deal with it differently.
The podcast is hosted by The Guardian’s Lee Glendinning and she is joined by several guests. First is Dr. Denise Baden, who is one of my new heroes. She is an Associate Professor from University Business School focusing on psychology and ethics I believe. Sean Dagan Wood, editor-in-chief of Positive News and co-founder of the Constructive Journalism Project. Bless you, Sean. What a great initiative. Check them out, people! Giselle Green, Editor of Constructive Voices, another interesting group. Giselle was fun to listen to, she is a firecracker! And finally, Mike Rice-Oxley, the Guardian’s Head of Special Projects and series’ editor of The Upside.
They talk through a lot of different aspects of reporting positive news vs the attention grabbing negative stuff we see everyday. I won’t regurgitate that information here because you can go listen to the podcast yourself. BUT I did want to bring up some interesting stuff they discussed.
Positive news has traditionally been viewed as fluff or not really worth reporting. Because positive news hasn’t been respected over the years as being as serious as negative news, journalists have been trained more and more to report news negatively. And not just negative stuff, even finding negative spins to pull on stories that wouldn’t otherwise have that view.
Giselle recounts her days on her first job as a journalist working for the BBC News radio. Her first task in the day was to call a special hotline to see what had happened overnight with the firemen, police, ambulance people. EMTs I think they are called now ha. She had to write up a report for the news on that. I mean, what? I get it but to a point. Sure, it’s important to know what is going on around town but what about people’s privacy? What about calling the local library to see what their schedule is that day or week for people to check out? What about reading coupons or specials stores are having so people can know what’s going on there? I mean, there are so many other things we can talk about. I’m not saying DON’T share the bad stuff, just make sure to balance it out with good stuff. Or even just neutral stuff. I mean, come on.
They went on to talk about journalists’ trainings on reporting news these days. Dr. Baden spoke about a conversation she had with another journalist regarding how differently he would break news of an airplane crash to a loved one vs the entire community. Spoiler alert, he said he would break it to a loved one very differently. As in delivering the news in a more kind and concerned manner vs the cold, click-baity way he would for the community to hear. He had been trained that way! Why is this not a bigger issue for us? Because we are freaking used to it.
I believe it was Dr. Baden again who discussed a study that was done by Reuters Institute for the Study of Journalism who spoke to over 70,000 people in 36 countries and almost third said they would usually avoid the news because it put them in a bad mood or they felt they couldn’t trust the news was true or reliable OR because they felt they couldn’t do anything about it so why listen?
She or Giselle, sorry I didn’t write down who said what in the podcast when I was taking notes, spoke of another study done by the Edelman Global Trust Barometer. They showed that a third of people admitted to consuming less news than they used to and others even avoid it completely because it was too depressing. This says to me that if news outlets don’t find a way of balancing the news or at least framing news in a more digestible way, things can get really out of hand for them. If it hasn’t already. The other guests even talked about how researchers have known for along time that people want more positive news, so where is it?
This is where things got really interesting. The guests launched into a discussion about how difficult it is to follow good news because the timeline for good news is much slower than for bad news. Giselle quoted Steven Pinkum as saying, “Bad things can happen quickly but good things aren’t built in a day. And as they unfold they’ll be out of sync with the news cycle.” GAH. I hear what you are saying but still.
Yes, bad news sells better than good news. Bad news is easier to package, easier to find, easier to investigate. It’s faster, it’s more convenient in every way for news outlets. But it’s like eating too much sugar. Do too much and you are going to feel like poop.
Dr. Baden said something that I feel needs to be quoted here, sorry, I will try not to quote too much but it was sooo good. She was talking about the competitiveness of news reporting basically feeding the negative news beast, “And one of the reasons I’ve got a real problem with this is, yes, we might’ve evolved to pay attention to alarming or scary information. But we certainly, our little brains have not evolved to have the worst of the world’s horrors, condensed, bigged up to maximize the scare and alarm and presented to us constantly throughout the day. I think it’s no wonder we have mental health issues. So I think that changes it from a journalistic issue into a public health and an ethical issue.”
We need to be less tolerant of the negative way news is packaged to us. We need to demand more positive news in our reports, newspapers, magazines, online sources, etc.
I do want to take a second and say that we also can’t allow ourselves to only consume good news. In no way do I want this podcast to ever become someone’s only way of getting any news. That’s not ok either. I probably won’t be covering major news events since that is usually pretty negative stuff. But as I learn how to do this and hopefully grow and get better, we will hopefully see more of that in the future. But consuming only good news is just as destructive as only consuming bad news.
Either way, we can’t let ourselves be captured by the click-bait culture news has turned itself into. One of the male guests stated that we can’t say that media just reflects society entirely, that bad news is what we want or need or even are in relation to the content of the news. The conversation posed three important questions that our news media need to heavily consider:
What is the purpose of journalism today?
How should it be done?
What are the values that should be of the heart of journalism?
These questions are vital to how journalism will evolve. But I’m going to leave that open ended since we could get stuck on this topic for hours. And frankly, I’m not willing to go there. I’m not a professional, I’m just a citizen of this world begging our media to chill out and help find the good things that are happening in this world.
Finally, and I think most importantly, the podcast went on to discuss that when The Guardian’s The Upside reported on some cool things people were doing to combat plastic waste and other problems in England, they got lots of responses from people inspired to do something similar, or other endeavors they were engaging on. How cool is that? How cool is that people were engaging in their actual lives based on an article they wrote? That should be a much larger focus of news, not just reporting on what has happened or even happening, but what people CAN DO.
Now in an effort to not get too stuck on the podcast, because even though I basically just rehashed an hour long podcast for you in 20 minutes or so, I don’t want you to expect that from me. This will be the space where I tell you some cool articles I found over the past 2 weeks or so that made me smile, tear up WITH JOY, or laugh. These will be neat articles that will warm the heart, make you think about something neat we can try, or brag on some cool people doing awesome things. I will strive to remain apolitical because we get enough politics every day. Plus I don’t want to enter that sphere. This is solely for cool things happening in the world, in the US, and in Texas because that’s where I live. Selfish I know but this whole endeavor is rather selfish in nature. At the end of every podcast, I will tell you about some websites, social media accounts, other podcasts, books, movies, etc that I find that bring me joy in some form. Some will be funny, some will be warm fuzzy, some might even be bizarre. But I do hope that all this brings some joy for you to binge on with me.
Thank you for listening! Can’t wait to bring you some real good news in the next actual first episode! Until then, find some joy to binge!
The music for this podcast is "Industrious Ferret" by Kevin MacLeod. Thanks for listening and have a great week!