Buying Bad News with Your Hard Earned Money

On my way to the office this morning, I observed that something was happening between our police officers and the okada riders. I saw the policemen harassing and dragging the okada men and their motorcycles into their vans. This happened at not less than three bus stops in my route.

As we cruised along, I heard the sad news of a helicopter crash on my car radio. The news report said a DIG and three other police officers died in a helicopter crash that occurred in Jos, Plateau state of Nigeria, yesterday. According to the news, one of the victims, Deputy Inspector General of Police (DIG) John Haruna was only promoted to the new rank some twelve days before his death. So sad!

While still listening to the news broadcast, I thought about those policemen that were harassing okada men and started wondering whether policemen ever mourn the death of their colleagues or bosses. ‘Could it be that they have not yet heard the news? Or, could this be another way of getting money from people since there is now an embargo on police checkpoints?’ I thought as I journeyed to work.

Shortly after my arrival in the office, copies of the dailies were brought to me and I quickly scanned through The Punch. Of course, the news of the police helicopter crash was there in the paper. The front page also screamed, “Alleged kidnappers of slain Briton, Italian paraded.” As I leafed through the 64-page newspaper, I began to marvel at the sheer number of bad news in it. It doesn’t matter which newspaper you read, they all carry loads upon loads of bad news every day. The world of today has suddenly become a world of sad news, and we all use our money to buy the bad news almost every day!

It is now getting clearer to me why some people claim that they don’t read newspapers. Majority of what you read sink into your brain and, if care is not taken, it can affect both your health and emotions, honestly.

This is also why it is difficult for me to understand the reasons for many people scrambling to read the dailies every day! You know the group I’m referring to. They call them FRAN – the Free Readers Association of Nigeria. You find them at every newspaper vendor’s stand. And, of course, vendors don’t like them so much because they obstruct prospective buyers from gaining easy access to the newspapers. But what can anyone do? This is a country where millions of Nigerians cannot afford to buy a newspaper every day. Is it even worth it? Why should you buy sad news with your hard earned money?

If the saying, “We Are What We Read” is true, it would seem that we are poisoning our minds on a daily basis. I want to throw a simple challenge to you. Pick up any newspaper or listen to the news on TV or radio and begin to follow each of the main items. You will realize that you read or hear more bad news than good news. Why should this be so? Could it be a sales strategy from the news media? Is it a form of “psychology work” where they know that Nigerians enjoy bad news than good news, or what? Maybe it’s a confirmation of what the authors of Made to Stick said about the Curse of Knowledge.

One of the horrible things about bad news is that it doesn’t take time before it becomes a part of you. It’s like the end-of-year prophesies we used to hear from Nigerian prophets in those days. They would tell you something would happen to a state governor or a popular musician before March of the New Year. You could then find yourself “keeping your ears and eyes to the ground” waiting for the prophesies to be fulfilled. By the way, do those prophets still dish out their yearly predictions, or has the practice gone out of fashion?

So, if you follow the media like those prophets, it wouldn’t take long before you start expecting when next a Book Haram attack or bank robbery news would be reported. All this, of course, can be quite damaging to your emotion and perception of life. If you are not cautious, you could begin to see a world of danger; you begin to ignore the good things of life and start focusing attention on the wrong things – the bad news! It wouldn’t take too long before you begin to see only a world of darkness.

If you have today’s The Punch newspaper with you, let’s go through together to confirm what I’ve just said. Let’s shout out some of the headlines:

  • Insecurity: IG identifies 1,497 illegal routes into Nigeria;
  • Four tankers, seven cars burnt in Ibadan auto crash;
  • SEC DG spent N30 million on hotel bills in eight months;
  • DIG, three others die in helicopter crash;
  • Alleged kidnappers of slain Briton, Italian paraded;
  • States face bankruptcy over N340 billion foreign debt – RMAFC;
  • Children living in urban areas lack adequate welfare – UNICEF;
  • Tears, anger as youth shot by DPO is buried;
  • Man remanded for stealing mobile phone;
  • Rites Foods distributor’s mum dies of shock;
  • Police arrest illegal traffic agent in rivers;
  • KAI official pushes man to death, police shoot three;
  • Boko Haram: LASG shuts visitors’ vehicles out;
  • Anti-labour bill politically motivated – NLC, TUC, others;
  • 13 die, others injured in Kwara, Edo auto crashes;
  • 11 die in Edo kerosene explosion;
  • Ogun banks begin indefinite strike;
  • Nigeria kidnappers knew assault was coming – UK minister;
  • UNIBEN chancellor: ASUU threatens showdown with FG;
  • Gender imbalance, threat to democracy – UN envoy;
  • Communal crisis looms in Ondo;
  • Osun PDP congress: Game of intrigues, suspense;
  • Nigeria/S’Africa row: Blame our government too;
  • NITEL: Disengaged workers kick against liquidation;
  • Nigeria’s crude oil production dropped by 14,300bpd in February – OPEC;
  • Youth unemployment rate hits record high in January;
  • Sugary drinks can be hard on heart – Study;
  • Outrage over rape victim suicide in Morocco;
  • Death toll in Bangladesh ferry tragedy hit 112;
  • Half of Indian homes lack toilets;
  • Two Turkish journalists missing in Syria;
  • Suicide bomber kills four at Somali presidential palace;
  •  1.4 million Syrians risk hunger – UN;
  • We are selling weapons to Syria for national defence – Russia;
  • African footballers stranded in Turkey

The above are just some of the bad news in the paper. If you do a simple arithmetic of the number listed above, you will come up with an average of one bad news for every two pages of the paper! Of course, here we are talking about The Punch which is quite a balanced newspaper. The story becomes totally different with those “tension-happy” newspapers and magazines. 

I am not advocating that you and I should shun the news media. No, that’s not the idea. My advice is that you should be cautious and conscious when reading the newspapers, while watching the television, or when listening to the radio. You must not get addicted in any way, and you should be mindful of what you pay attention to. 

Well, as far as the newspapers are concerned, you can actually enjoy the brilliant editorials and articles that some of them usually publish. You can also have fun admiring the beautiful faces and figures of those celebrities they often display. Better still, you may want to make use of the published vacancies if you are looking for a job, or if you are fed up with your present employer. 

Don’t be scared of missing out in the news or being out of touch. At the end of it all, you will realize that you have not really missed any great thing. Rather, you would have missed all the bad news – which can be a good thing for your health.

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