Saturday, July 6, 2013

The Tragedy of News Media

            Recently the community of Boston suffered an immense tragedy, before that, Newtown, CT and prior to that, Aurora, CO . Unfortunately after these events, the media has attempted to victimize the rest of the nation under the guise of the public’s right to know.

            I am glad that I live in a country with a free press. I believe it is truly a blessing for society in order to provide a system of checks and balances to protect the citizenry against potential abuses by government. Certainly, the founding fathers recognized this as a needed aspect necessary to ensure a democracy.

            The underbelly of this freedom however, is license to report anything and everything regardless of the relevancy and impact on the public. Why print, broadcast, and cyber media find it necessary to overwhelm the public and beat it relentlessly down with tales of tragedy so distant from home that it has little impact on our lives until the media makes it so, is an unanswered question. Or perhaps the answer is the bottom line. Media is, after all, a business attempting to make a profit.

            Not only was I stunned by the news of the Boston event, but even more so when a broadcast station announced that on their evening news that same night they would examine whether something like that could happen here. I did not expose myself to that particular evening display but I wonder..... even though many things are possible, is it probable or likely that such a tragedy would happen here. It would seem that the media is suggesting that it could happen anywhere. But is that true? On what basis is it true since at the time we had no idea of the structure and reason for the bombing. What are the criteria necessary for this kind of horror to occur? Certainly, you need more than simply disaffected youth with access to weaponry. In our society, that might apply to the majority of young people.

            I suspect we will have heard from the surviving victims, the families of the victims, the friends of the families of the victims, distant relatives, local political and educational spokespeople, and the surrounding professional experts who will proffer their speculations about reasons, all the while the media constantly keeping the story in our awareness. Why is it necessary to report so frequently, thoroughly, intimately, and constantly? I suppose defenders of the coverage will state that the public has a right to know and we need to learn lessons from the tragedy.

            I can’t help but think that this rationale for coverage arises from the bottom feeders who thrive on the genre of programming that gives us TMZ, Jerry Springer, Honey Boo Boo, Jersey Shore, and the like and the world’s most amazing car crashes, police busts, attacking animals, strange incidents, and catastrophes. Perhaps we’ve become a nation of voyeurs seeking our nourishment by vicariously feeding off the adversity of others.

            If it is true, as some suppose, that youngsters are so vulnerable and easily influenced by rock musicians, song lyrics, movies, radical religion, and just about anything that opposes and dis-poses the status quo, why would we allow the media to bring such tragic and perverse stories into our homes and schools? People can become traumatized not only by experiencing and witnessing traumatic events but also by hearing about trauma. Is it possible that the media has a responsibility not to report?

            I encourage readers to reduce their amount of exposure to the news media. If you must, browse newspapers, listen to friends and colleagues to find out what’s happening. It adds to our daily stresses to hear calamitous stories from around the world and be powerless to act upon them. We victimize ourselves when we do this. Press the OFF button. If a story has a direct effect on your life, trust me, you will hear about it. When we constantly place ourselves in victimized positions, we become impotent, disenchanted, tortured souls, vulnerable to numbing out and losing our passion and compassion for living. In an effort to reclaim power we often adopt the position that somehow we are owed relief from bad fortune, given all that we have had to take in through other’s misfortunes. I’m thinking here of the obscene advertising motto of a personal injury law firm which urges you to call them “when life is unfair.”

            Although we are guaranteed by our Declaration of Independence the right to pursue happiness, we are not guaranteed happiness. We seem to believe that we deserve happiness. I’m sorry but that “ain’t gonna happen.” Unfairness is part and parcel of the Great Round. Misfortune, error, bad luck, flaw, failure, etc., make up at least half of our lives. We receive enough of this in our own experience, there’s no need to let the media dump more and victimize us further. Our own circumstances and events contribute to the establishment of character, engender a respect for fate, and inspire humility. Honor your own suffering, embrace it, welcome it when it knocks on your door, and your life will grow to contain less yearning and more contentment. Don’t rob others of their sorrow. Don’t steal their pain for your own passion.

Visit me  at

No comments:

Post a Comment