Tell the story of a Falling Population as a Positive, not a Negative

Why does the global news media only report the negatives of a decline in population? The viral regurgitation of the global news machine.

A story appeared around the globe about the first ever fall in population in South Korea recently, all covering the story in the same way, negatively. Technological efficiency has enabled global news stories break and spread virally around the world in a few hours, but the result is a verbatim regurgitated facsimile of a news story whether it is right or wrong, with no thought or analysis of the story applied.

If the story is wrong, a chasm immediately opens between what is seen from the corporate, government and news media at the top end and the reality of what is happening in the real world of normal people reading a story at the bottom end.

Thanks to Google News and the comments sections in the individual news providers we can see the reaction of the people actually reading the stories in real time. The contrast in the corporate version against the readers’ reaction can be huge.

Take this story: ‘South Korea Population Falls for First Time’ for example.

The picture of a tiny fall in population is written in the same negative way by every single news media organisation. They use words and phrases such as ‘alarm’, ‘the number of babies born in 2020 has fallen drastically’, ‘A declining population puts immense strain on a country’ (BBC) , ‘Fears for the future as South Korea’s population drops’ (The Times) and ‘Shrinking Korea: demographic catastrophe looming’. 

No attempt is made in any of the stories to look a little deeper into the story.

The real reactions of the people actually reading the story on the BBC news website tell a different story – the story is good news and should have been reported as such. The comments are often blunt and to the point. Taking a snapshot of the public’s reaction 24 hours after its release and the result is a vast majority of the commenters say that a falling population is a good thing.

To use the words of the comment with the most likes (1.8k), which says:

‘South Korea has the right idea. Yes, it’s sad that there were more deaths than births but I think we all need to realize that the greenest thing we can do is not to have children’             

This comment pretty much sums up the thoughts of 90% of the other 1000 comments.

And they are right. The benefits of a smaller population vastly outweigh the negatives. A smaller population makes housing more affordable as the simple effect of supply and demand comes into effect. A smaller population eases traffic congestion. It reduces pollution. It slow the spread of deadly viral infections as population density decreases. It eases pressure on the environment. It stops overfishing. It reduces pressure on hospitals. It stops releases of CO2 from housebuilding. The list is endless.

The corporate news structure works by little more than copy and pasting a story in order to get it out onto your own platform without spending an hour actually looking into the story. There are some examples of good in-depth reporting, but that doesn’t stop the majority of being cut-and-paste facsimiles of the original.

As part of the machine of corporate profit-driven capitalism, the true picture of the benefits of a smaller population get replaced by the perceived negatives of ‘damage to the economy’.

When media organisations report on a story they should give it some thought, which would give them more credibility, reader appreciation and trust.

In a time when the news is overwhelmingly negative, wouldn’t it be an idea to give good news as good news when we get it?


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