TV, newspaper, and magazine reporters and editors decide what we learn

When a CNN/New York Times poll asked people where they learned most about health-related issues, only 1-in-10 said from a doctor; 6-in-10 said they learned most from television, newspapers, or magazines.

What reporters and editors find newsworthy often is a poor measure of what people really need to know. We get spun by mistaking how often we hear about something for how often it really occurs.

For example, breast cancer gets enormous attention in the news media. Yet, the plain fact is that women are nine times more likely to die of heart disease, and more than twice as likely to die from a stroke, and lung cancer kills far more women than breast cancer, and so do other chronic lung diseases, such as emphysema.

Psychologists call this effect the availability heuristic, a mental bias that gives more weight to vividness and emotional impact than to actual probability.

Unspun by Brooks Jackson and Kathleen Hall Jamieson


Related blogs:

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s


%d bloggers like this: