The News and mental health

A few Sundays ago, I woke up at 7:25 and turned on the radio to listen to the CBC regional news at 7:30.  

There were 9 news items of apparently local interest:

The first was a shooting that happened in Scarborough overnight

The second was another shooting that happened overnight

The third was another shooting that happened overnight

The fourth was a report of a fire in a home.

The fifth was a stabbing

The sixth was another stabbing

The seventh was the five-year anniversary of a mass shooting.

The eighth was an arrest of a teacher.

The ninth concerned a community event.

The death totals in the news items amounted to eleven. We were informed as to where in the GTA the events occurred.

I was assured that authorities were looking into these events and the public was invited to notify the authorities if they have pertinent information.

If I listened to the same news one hour later, I would hear a repeat of the same items.

CBC has now added a feature where the host brings in the news announcer to preview what will be on the news at the half hour.  

If I listen to CBC radio most of the day, I will hear about these eleven deaths twice per hour during the morning and evening rush hours.  All in all, I will hear about the same items about ten times.

With seven million people in the GTA, a small number of shootings, stabbings, and fires sounds like a reasonable number.

But why is this cluster of isolated mayhem referred to as the ‘news’?

In my life, I believe I have heard illegal gunshots once. I have seen the odd home fire burning. I was once nearby a knifing in high school decades ago.

What is the point?

What is the point of repeating information on these events – mostly violent deaths – many times per day.

I can truthfully say the effect it has on me is depressing. The events of my day will not centre on violent death.

I do agree that I need to understand that there is violent and painful death and gross misbehaviour in our communities.

But not 10 times a day and not to the exclusion of almost everything else.

I think that there may be some whose lives are more affected by the media onslaught of death and misbehaviour.

I think it may affect their mental health and colour how they understand community life.

Many of them will turn to social media where they have more control.

On Friday August 4, 2023, a program called The Current was punctuated by a news break at 9:30 a.m. where listeners were informed that children were injured and maimed in a traffic accident and that their family dog had been killed.

It was followed by just one other item that explained that a school employee took illegal photos of a six-year-old boy in a school washroom.

This was apparently exactly what I needed to know about my region as I began my working day.

JS- August 8, 2023