Monday, October 25, 2010

The glorification of death in the media

Do you want to be confronted with the face of someone who has tragically died when you log out of checking your emails? I vote for no.

Logging out of hotmail is a regular routine and today I was confronted with this:
Here is a link to the story.

Ninemsn is well known for dumbing down and sensationalising the news- as is much of online media.

However, it now seems a trend to just smack up the face of someone now dead to shock us and bring out some kind of "Oh, how sad, I'm glad it wasn't me" or "I can't believe that man mistook the woman for a deer!" reaction.

For the journalists out there other thoughts might include: "How did the woman have a husband in the headline who was then demoted to a boyfriend in the story? Was a husband losing his wife more tragic?"

Needless to say, I am positive there are more newsworthy things happening in the world (or even, you know, Australia) that deserve the 'front page'.

More so, you would think an online news site would use the advantage they have of little to no publishing delays to lead with timely and 'fresh' news- not something that happened on Friday night when it is now Monday.

This circumstance leads to the bigger issue of the glorification of death. It is an age-old saying: "if it bleeds is leads" but do you think this is a motto to run news services by?

Thousands of people die every day. Yes, some deaths seem more 'newsworthy' and extraordinary than others but wouldn't it be more helpful and constructive to fill news bulletins with the happenings of the living?

It's no wonder so many people are turned off watching or reading the news when they know they will be confronted with doom and gloom.

Sure, doom and gloom is a fact of life but let's not blow things out of proportion. We don't run a story every time a woman gives birth in unusual circumstances or every time a baby survives against all odds- and neither should we.

Here is to hoping for the end (or at least reduction) of the media glorifying death and re-prioritising what daily global happenings are of most importance.

What do you think? If it bleeds should it lead? Do the media glorify death, and is that acceptable?


Claire said...

Great post Maryann!

I find it disturbing that the media focuses so heavily on bizarre death stories, (i.e the man who mistook his wife for a soccer ball), or super local stories involving teenagers (P-plater goes joy riding).

There's seldom a thought for the thousands of men women and children in the third world that die at the hands of barbaric regimes, genocide, civil war, disease, malnutrition & salvation.
Apparently it's not barbaric enough. The only kind of bleed-leads worth publishing are the ones we are powerless to prevent.

skippingstones1 said...

While I don't think that death shouldn't be reported on... I take issue with the numbing and de-sensitising of feeling which comes from so many of the reports (from the volume and style of them).
It is near impossible to be emotional and feel deeply *every* time you read a story, as sad and tragic as it may be. We simply can't take that much in our system (our bodies are also adapted to filter in information from our surroundings so we aren't overstimulated, so maybe that is a factor in play...)

Maryann Wright said...

The question that I had when reading the story was: would I want to see my face or a loved one's up there if something tragically happened? Perhaps only if it generated much needed discussion about something that could potentially save other lives.

Then again, does there always have to be a 'moral' to the story or something to learn from the tragic incident?

But is sensationalism or "bizarre death stories" whose primary function is to get lots of clicks on the link and make the news service competitive a type of exploitation of what is a sad ending of someone's life and quite personal for those involved?