“… and the uncovering of the dead becomes a show, with a lack of anything else to do and a lack of water and food. This is a story where the pictures are going to look the same over the days ahead and we’re all going to get bored with it – because we always do. And then they will be truly alone …”
This is a quote from an impromptu narrative when a news anchor has to cover when the reporter in the field chokes up. Instead of yet another report on death tolls, looting and hopeless devastation viewers got treated to something rare. A journalist who actually tells it like it is.
When I was a kid I wanted to be a journalist. I wanted to find stories and tell them to people so that they would be inspired to do something, do the right thing,… help in whatever way possible. I couldn’t imagine anything more amazing than being able to show people that there’s always more than one side to things, and that what they did and thought and said made a difference. And that they should choose what that difference should be, rather than just ignore the choice and complain about the consequences afterwards. To me that seemed like the greatest job in the world and I loved watching the news. It seemed so important… so involved, in a sense.
Of course, as I got older I began to realise things that slowly shifted my view. I began to see how words got twisted, and stories turned lob sided lobbying for public outrage or sympathy. And most of all I began to realise that journalists were actively hunting those angles. Even to the point of sacrificing the real story in favour of the scandal that might boost their ratings. There’s always a victim and a villain to be found and ousted on prime time TV in exchange for good exposure. Never mind the facts. Never mind the consequences. As long as it sells.
At this point I have grown so jaded with the news that I barely can be bothered to watch them anymore. I don’t want news telling me how hopeless everything is. I want news that makes me remember that I am part of it too – even if it happens on the other side of the planet. News that makes me remember to feel, engage and act with and for others, not just shut them out because their strife is too big and too unpleasant to be aware of.
The developing trend of reporting that there is “nothing to report at this time” is to me more than anything an indication that the trade of journalism has forgotten its point and purpose. And in doing so it is literally strangling itself. Desensitising its audience with repetitive broad casts, breeds the need for even bigger stories to break – or we simply won’t care enough to keep interested. In the hunt for scandal and sensation reporters seem to have forgotten that people can be shocked into indifference.
What point is there is news like that? What point is there in choosing to convey anything in such a way that it will make the recipient shut off to it?