We, the inkslingers, pen pushers, journos, whatever you want to call us, see ourselves as bringing news to the world. We see ourselves as providing a valuable service. We see ourselves as the good guys. Sometimes it seems though, too much media attention on topics can hurt the public rather than inform it.
I read a book a while back called The Culture of Fear. The book was mainly about how the media has scared the general public through dramatization. I was probably too young to take in all the information and decide whether I agreed with it or not, but I do remember some interesting things. One early example in the book was about halloween candy. There were two reported cases of people poisoning candy and giving it out to kids, those reports were dramatized by the media in headlines that sounded something like “Halloween Candy: Innocent Treat or Fatal Poison?” Which put a scare into parents nationwide. Now I’m not saying you shouldn’t be safe and take precautions but when news media takes isolated incidents and treats them like epidemics that is irresponsible.
One recent event that has recieved widespread media attention is the misconduct of Elizabeth Lambert, of New Mexico Women’s soccer team, while playing in a semi final game. Lamberts play was immature at best. She recieved a caution during the game but no red cards which if the refs had been paying attention she could easily have been given. Following the game video footage of her actions was posted online quickly drawing national attention and the media jumped on it. As a result of the video footage and media attention to it Lambert has been suspended for the season. I’m not going to defend her actions, but what I will say is that this type of behavior happens all the time in the game, it just isn’t always caught on video. Does she deserve to be suspended, I’d say yes. But does she deserve creeps sending her messages saying they were turned on by her rough play, or messages saying she should be sent to prison and raped, No. Media has serious effects on people’s lives, and I’m not saying that the story of her misconduct shouldn’t have been told, but the major and lasting effects media can have on people’s lives is definitely something to think about.