Occasionally, I hear complaints from readers that Pool & Spa News is too much of a downer.
“All of your stories are so negative,” people say. “Why can’t you write more good news?”
The answer is complex and intriguing. When we publish a positive piece with a clear effect on a large segment of the industry, the readership responds favorably. This issue’s cover story about equipment financing would be an example.
But if we come out with upbeat material where people have less of a vested interest, say an account of one retailer’s charitable activities, the response is, well, crickets.
So whenever possible, we share positive news that will interest the majority of readers. But, to be honest, those stories have been getting tougher and tougher to find in this economic climate.
There’s another factor at work here. For whatever reason, most human beings seem to gravitate toward bad news, which is the inspiration for the old adage in journalism, “If it bleeds, it leads.”
In fact, the University of Missouri released a study last year testing whether that is actually true. Researchers measured the physiological responses of people after they had read “threatening” news stories and, not surprisingly, the data showed respondents’ heart rates, attention and memory increased when the story was negative. However, what I wouldn’t have predicted was an additional finding that showed the more local the story, the more noticeable the effect. In other words, negative information that affects us directly is what really gets the adrenaline pumping.
While I sympathize with industry members who don’t want to read bad news, in many cases these “local” stories have a greater impact on how we conduct business. Sadly, there would be no VGB Act without the high-profile death of a little girl.
That said, if you have anything positive to report from your neck of the woods, send it our way. We’re always ready to buck the trend.