“Reporters thrive on the world’s misfortune. For this reason they often take an indecent pleasure in events that dismay the rest of humanity.” (Russel Baker, The Good Times, 1988).
For news to capture attention, it has to astound the audiences by assailing longstanding and time-honored traditions and ethical values of the social order. Sacro-sanctity of family relationships indeed matches the area that can be assaulted to generate the preferred outcomes for the news media. Nothing sensationalizes news more than the latest low moral standing of the social order and new low-levels in human decency. News media prospers on its feat with absolute inconsiderateness, in a business like fashion. Media moves on to the next scene and the next story after the commercial break, absolving itself of every responsibility.
“It is wrong and immoral to seek to escape the consequences of one’s acts.” (Mahatama Gandhi)
On the other hand, being the first responder on the scene of crime, the Police Officer has to face a different dilemma. He has to witness the scene, report it, and live with the memory of the gruesome details. He has to remember what really happened and how it happened so that justice could be delivered. Most important of all he has to live with it for the rest of his life. Police Force and society pays a heavy price for the media sensationalism.
The way the media reports the news, the videos and interviews of the children and the spectators for all the details of what they saw and heard while the shootings or murders were going on serve only one purpose-sensationalization of the news. No news stories or articles focus on the victims of crime since this news does not sell. News media pastes the faces of killers and murderers on all their reports for hours, making them media heroes. Sensationalistic media lit the fire for young impressionable minds watching the news to go on a rampage and make themselves media heroes. The unfortunate result of news media sensationalism is promotion of a culture of fear and violence.
“We owe our children-the most vulnerable citizens in any society-a life free from violence and fear.” (Nelson Mandela)
With the irresponsible publication of the information the reporters and editors in an inconsiderate and thoughtless way open up an atrocious “Pandora’s box” that has an outstanding possibility of leaving an objectionable mess on their faces, and creating the picture of our social order that is illusionary, blemished, deceptive, out of touch with truth, detached from the factual milieu of our life. The next story will be more sensational than the previous to keep the audience captivated and the news media believe they have no choice but to do this.
“Choices may be unbelievably hard but they’re never impossible. To say you have no choice is to release yourself from responsibility and that’s not how a person with integrity acts.” (Patrick Ness, Monsters of Men)
© Samina Iqbal. 2013