The recent death of Muammar Gaddafi and the Zanesville, Ohio exotic animal outbreak displays the media’s higher tolerance for violence. What does the increasing amount of violence seen on news shows say about society and the media? Sarah Worley, assistant professor of communication, discusses violence in the media.
Does the media have a higher tolerance for violence?
Discussing violence in the media is a difficult topic. Each person has their own definition of what is violent. However, there is a difference in how violence is projected in the media. There is violence used for entertainment purposes and there is violence for journalistic purposes. As a society, we generally have a high tolerance for violent images. In regards to news, it is the journalist’s job to determine their journalistic ethics and what needs to be informed to the public. Journalists have the duty to be transparent and honor to the public’s right to know current information. For example, a couple years ago there was a Sea World trainer that was violently killed by one of the animals in the park. The attack was caught on tape and displayed for the public to see. It is difficult to determine the right thing to do. On one side, the media has to respect the family’s right to privacy but journalists also have to show and broadcast the news accordingly. There’s a fine line between the public’s right to know and maintaining human dignity/privacy.
How has television violence changed over the years?
Before the introduction of the television, media was reflected through nonvisual mediums such as the radio. The power of the image and video through the television and internet has significantly effected how we use and view news in today’s society. However, photojournalism has been used throughout numerous wars before the popularity of the television. Violent imagery is not something new. The documentation of violence has been around for decades. The only aspect different is the medium in how it is documented. For example, Gadaffi’s death was documented by citizens’ cell phones. There was not a journalist on sight at the time of his death. Violence has always been documented throughout all of history. The difference now is that it is not only being documented by journalists but by the average person as well.
In what way has violence in the media affected us as a culture?
Society is reflected by what is relevant in our lives. Society is very image driven and half the time it is not by the journalist. Currently, the average person is constructing what is news and media through social media and imagery. Does violence reflect us as a society or construct us? We live in a complex world and there is not a definite answer to any of these questions. However, there is a lot of anger and frustration in the world and that is what gets reflected in the media’s storylines.
-Kayci Nelson ’14, Juniata Online Journalist