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Violence trumps ‘good news’ in readers’ picks

Violence trumps ‘good news’ in readers’ picks


Every year, we print hundreds of stories of people doing wonderful things in their communities or winning high-level honors. And every year, you pretty much ignore them.

When it comes to what you want, no matter how much you protest on Facebook that we never run enough “good” news, the statistics do not lie. You click on the stories of murder, rape, and mayhem, missing children, and scandal.

It’s not your fault. Our brains are hard-wired to perk up at bad news, many studies have shown.

“Our capacity to weigh negative input so heavily evolved for a good reason—to keep us out of harm’s way,” wrote Hara Estroff Marano in a 2003 article in Psychology Today.

“From the dawn of human history our very survival depended on our skill at dodging danger. The brain developed systems that would make it unavoidable for us not to notice danger and thus, hopefully, respond to it.”

And that’s why every journalism student learns in her first introductory class, “If it bleeds it leads.” Because — yes — we are here to sell newspapers. That is not our entire function, but we wouldn’t be here to bring you the good news if we didn’t at least break even.

This year, however, there was a surprise. The very top story was about a manager at a fast-food restaurant who went to bat for his employees against upper management, got fired, and then his employees went to bat for him.

He didn’t get his job back, but people seemed to gravitate to this story about courageous minimum-wage laborers risking their jobs to stand against injustice.

This story didn’t bleed, but it led, at least as far as you’re concerned. So maybe there is more to the human psyche than raw animal survival instinct.

Here is a list of 2019’s most clicked-on stories from our web site:

  1. Burger King manager says he was fired for sticking up for employees
  2. 6 dead in head-on near Cameron
  3. Missing grandfather found deceased
  4. Missing toddler found deceased
  5. Police name victims in U.S. 89 crash
  6. Diné convicted of murder set for execution
  7. Police seek public’s help in hunt for rape suspect
  8. Diné plans to go to Mexico with deported husband
  9. Jack Ahasteen comics
  10. 3 arrested in home invasion; occupant dead
  11.  Navajo Ranger shot while playing Russian roulette
  12. Body of Aneth toddler found
  13. Search for Aneth toddler suspended
  14. FBI seeks info in murder of young Navajo
  15. Murder being investigated in Tuba City
  16. 4 more structures burn in Naschitti
  17. Sweetwater man killed, family beaten during home invasion
  18. At stormy meeting, police chief quits
  19. Miss Navajo: $24,000 of own funds spent
  20. Traveling nurse accused of rape arrested
  21. 9 placed on leave at Rough Rock school
  22. Police confirm shooting death involved officer
  23. Coal train operators will miss ‘best job in the world’
  24. Man drowns at Tsaile Lake
  25. Shiprock Fair $100,000 in the red
  26. Aneth toddler still missing
  27. War hero grandfather missing since Friday
  28. Navajo police, family search for missing 94-year-old
  29. New Miss Navajo sees role as public servant
  30. ‘Super-jinii’: Diné comic draws from early experience
  31. Trading post with storied history a total loss
  32. Wells Fargo, Nation settle lawsuit for $6.5 million
  33. Woman may have seen missing man
  34. Human remains found at McKinley County Courthouse
  35. Chinle Starbucks opens to long lines
  36. Officials say parking, camping ban will be enforced
  37. KTNN staff accuse boss of unprofessionalism
  38. 5 of 17 INFR world champions are Diné
  39. Body found in burned vehicle identified

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