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Media as a Positive Influence

June 14, 2017By SmartFeed

Media as a Positive Influence

 

Varda Meyers Epstein | Kars4Kids Guest Author

These days we hear a lot about fake news and media bias. The focus on the negative influence of the media makes it difficult for us to present a more positive side to news media. It behooves us then as parents, to be on the lookout for news stories that have a positive effect on the world.

One way the media has a positive influence is by breaking the tension of the nightly news with a human interest story. While some argue that human interest stories aren't news and don't belong in the news, a good case can be made for including these stories in news broadcasts. Viewers can be depressed or tense after listening to newscasters report murders and robberies. A story about a dog who saves his owner's life, for instance, can make us feel better and restore our faith that mankind is essentially good.

 


Help your kids find the best news stories and resources: Use our Expert Playlist with Movies, Apps, Shows to Frame Current Events titles


 

A good example of news stories that have a positive influence are human interest stories that generate funds or other help for people who are ill or otherwise in need. Parker Monhollon, for instance, a little girl with Diffuse Intrinsic Pontine Glioma (DIPG), a type of inoperable brain stem tumor that affects young children, has become a social media star. As such, her story made it into various major news outlets. The media's involvement not only raised much-needed funds for Parker's medical care, it brought greater awareness of a DIPG to the public, which may help motivate research for a cure for this disease.

Parker Loves Life

Parker Monhollon is using social media to raise awareness and funds to fight DIPG (a devastating form of pediatric brain tumor)

 

Sometimes the main point of a human interest story is to move us and make us feel empathy. These stories show us what we have in common as human beings, rather than what drives us apart. An excellent example of this is children's author Amy Krouse Rosenthal's viral essay, You May Want to Marry My Husband, published in Modern Love, a New York Times column, ten days before she died of ovarian cancer. The essay was the author's way of trying to look after her husband from beyond the grave, knowing her illness was terminal and worried about how he would manage without a wife, without her. Children raised on Krouse Rosenthal's books, may appreciate learning this inside story about a beloved author and her final published work.

A human interest story can sometimes help change the way we view a person or an organization. A nice story about someone we dislike, may change the way we feel about that person. Such stories are plentiful during election cycles which can be seen by Googling the terms "Trump Saved My Life" or "Hillary Saved My Life".

A human interest story may be deemed positive due to "framing effects," which is the term for how the presentation of facts can change the way we see them. A rise in immigration in Spain, for example, might be framed negatively, to show that a rise in immigration leads to a rise in crime rates. The same story, however, can be framed to show that an increase in immigration benefits the economy.

Is your child interested in writing an enjoyable news or human interest story with positive influence? Johns Hopkins University has a resource for that!

 


Help your kids find the best news stories and resources: Use our Expert Playlist with Movies, Apps, Shows to Frame Current Events titles


 

Author Varda Meyers Epstein

Author: Varda Meyers Epstein

12 kids (8 boys, 4 girls, aged 16-36)

Parenting Expert and Contributing Editor at the Kars4Kids Educational Blog for Parents. Passionate about politics, exposing media bias, and teaching children to use their critical thinking skills.