This is terrifying, but the real shocker is that headlines like this one from CNN.com on Tuesday often take center stage in an effort to grab readers’ attention.
Stories about the dangers of the Internet, theft, the salacious lives and deaths of pop culture stars, the personal scandals of political figures and destruction are all at the top of the media hot list.
According to the article “If It Bleeds, It Leads: Understanding Fear-Based Media,” by Deborah Serani, “capitalistic motives associated with journalism have forced much of today’s television news to look to the spectacular, the stirring and the controversial as news stories.”
Scare tactics are the easiest way to grab the audience’s attention. After all, do you really care if something nice happened in your community?
But when a school shooting happens, suddenly no child is safe at school. Or when a drug-addicted singer dies, suddenly nothing in the world seems quite as important or quite as sad.
What about the years — even decades — those schools have gone without incidents, or the hundreds and thousands of schools with spotless records? What about the forgotten deaths of people who are actually trying to make a difference, like the soldiers dying daily in a war many people still forget we are fighting?
With all of these terrible stories flashing across our television and computer screens and jumping off the front pages of every newspaper, is there any wonder people believe the world is such a dangerous place?
While the media would have us believing the world is a terrible and dangerous place, the FBI’s Preliminary Semiannual Uniform Crime Report for January to June 2011 shows that the U.S. reported a 6.4 percent decease in the number of violent crimes, including murder, forcible rape, robbery and aggravated assault, reported to law enforcement in the first six months of 2011, compared to the same time in 2010.
These scare tactics are working.
Viewers continue to tune in to the news around the clock to find out why that car is wrapped around a telephone pole and if anyone died, how the little boy in Florida ended up dead and what is in my tap water that I NEED to know about.
As viewers, we want to blame it on the media, but we can’t seem to get enough of it either.
While stories of triumph are swept under the rug, the media blows up every story of conspiracy, destruction and mayhem until it’s bursting at the seams. But are they to blame?