Many public figures private lives have been exposed by the media. A little mistake that a public figure makes could cause the media to put personal issues on the spotlight. Such coverage places public figures under considerable strain, and even causes harmful effects in their daily lives. Sarah Worley, instructor in communication, shares her opinions whether this kind of exposure is necessary.
Is it necessary for the media to expose every detail of a public figure’s private life?
First of all, media has a privileged status in our society, and their responsibility is to keep an eye on people in positions of power. So the question becomes how much of a public figure’s private life affects them in their job, especially in politics. So part of the answer goes back to how you defined the media’s job. The media is also a business, it’s about making money, in some degree, and they’re going to give the public things that we want to hear. And as human beings, we love drama. We reward the media for their choice, what they report of these public figures, by watching, purchasing the stories, and so on. They don’t have to expose every detail on public figures private life, but we as the public do suggest that we want them to do.
How much has the new media changed in our life?
Because of technology there has been a shift in how the media thinks about news. As a result of technology, we’ve created the 24/7 news cycle. It used to be that when people wanted to get news, they called appointment viewing. But now people can get news everywhere, there’s even a whole channel devoted to it 24 hours a day. The question becomes, do we actually have enough news to fill 24 hours a day?. As a result everything becomes potential news because we have to fill this huge time period.
To the media, is the public’s interest more important, or a public figure’s image?
It does depend of the media outlet, and what that outlet’s agenda is. Their job, as established by the Founding Fathers in the Constitution, is to protect the public interest, which should be their first priority. I don’t believe they have any responsibility to uphold any particular public figure’s image and I don’t believe that most journalists feel that way.
Is it common for the media to dramatize events that are controversial?
Yes, they play up the emotional element of stories, because they know that’s what catches our eye and influences our emotions. In that way I do think they sometimes exaggerate and overemphasize certain aspect of a story.
-Helen Hu ’13, Juniata Opinion Online Journalist