The media is often criticized for being biased, but less often is it criticized for being too factual. William Dickey, instructor in English, shares his views on the media’s changing style:
During the Olympic opening, the Georgian luger’s fatal accident was shown at least 3 times. More recently, people shot down in the streets of Mexico are being displayed on the news. Is it distasteful to show these events on TV?
Well, I guess you can say yes and no. One of the goals is to present news in a factual manner, and with media relying on television and the Internet we can accurately depict these things. However, I think journalism can go overboard – these things can be blown out of proportion or taken to the extreme. Then again, it is important to accurately report what happens. One of the goals of media is to grab the audience’s attention and one of the things humans are fascinated with is death.
How should the media represent these events?
It is important for the media to represent the facts and be objective. We’re still in this state of flux of what is appropriate and what isn’t appropriate. The technology for delivering media is developing much more quickly than our social conscience is. The younger generation is experiencing a more and more graphic depiction of news. I am still torn on how to show graphic elements to a degree. However, is it a form a censorship if we don’t show the entire picture?
Twitter and camera phones can really catch the news, non-censored. Whether we agree on it, more and more graphic depictions of news are going to happen because individual people are becoming news reporters.
The coverage of Haiti showed massive desperation that was previously uncommon to American news. What prompted this change in media style?
I hadn’t thought about that. I would say that I’m not sure but I do know that we see trends in the media. I think here is a huge event that’s covered and we see all the drama and then it fades until the next big event – it seems like the media focuses on one or two major events at one time. There seem to be currents that the media grabs onto and milks it for all that its worth. I think that’s one of the things that was happening with the Haiti story. It is important because it prompted some positive influence with the world responding.
Are people with higher exposure to more gruesome death coverage on their news desensitized or more compassionate?
Being desensitized to the information doesn’t have to be bad because you know more of the truth. This could make you more compassionate or more callous, it depends on the individual. I don’t want to generalize, but I can see that going that way.
-Erin Kreischer ’13, Juniata Online Journalist