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UK tops the charts for negative news stories

No news really is good news if you live in the UK, as a recent study shows that UK and the Netherlands are the most depressing countries when it comes to news coverage. However, at least The Netherlands counters all this negativity by also being the country that has the most positive news stories.

The research, conducted in six countries, reported and analysed media sentiment from national news outlets. At a total level from all countries, the data showed that negative or neutral news stories made up over three quarters (85%) of output. Negative news was covered 32% of the time, neutral 53% of the time and positive 15% of the time. Examining the international data, news on TV was the most positive in tone (38%), narrowly ahead of print media (36%), and with radio a firm third (26%).

Results by country

Negative news

  1. United Kingdom and The Netherlands (50% each)
  2. Mexico (43%)
  3. France (37%)
  4. Germany (18%)
  5. Spain (13%)

Positive news

  1. The Netherlands (40%)
  2. Mexico (21%)
  3. France (17%)
  4. United Kingdom (14%)
  5. Germany (11%)
  6. Spain (1%)

Discussing how the UK compares with other countries James Kelliher, CEO at Whiteoaks International , says it isn’t all bad news: “In the UK we often think that it’s only our media output that is frequently negative, yet this study demonstrates that news in the Netherlands is equally negative and Mexico isn’t far behind at third. At home, the level of negative output does, however, provide plenty of material for our nation’s love of satire and wry humour, with this study showing we rank just fourth out of six for positive news coverage. This ranking against other leading nations is undoubtedly influenced by our continuing political uncertainty.

Positive news

Negative news

“Furthermore, with mental health concerns and awareness of them increasingly affecting our industry and the wider population of the UK, I’d argue that now more than ever, the PR industry needs to work harder. We need to make the case to journalists of all kinds that positive stories, where they are relevant and powerful, can and should be just as, if not more interesting for readers than negative ones. If we continue to view the majority of our news output through a negative lens, then we may have an ongoing challenge to counteract the effects on our mental wellbeing, with unknown consequences.”

So come on, let’s try and cheer everyone up by pushing the feel-good stories harder, life is hard enough without the news making people feel sad.


The research was conducted in March 2019 in the UK, France, Spain, Germany, the Netherlands and in Mexico. It was carried out by member agencies in each respective country that are part of the WIN PR Group (see below). Each day, the agency teams recorded and analysed media sentiment from news generated by a balanced selection of national radio, print and TV news media outlets.

The six agencies which participated in the research are: Whiteoaks International (UK), Comcorp (France), Finzel PR (Spain and Portugal), Fortis PR (Germany), Marcommit (Netherlands) and FJ Communications (Latin America).

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