Seeing is Believing, Or Should It Be?

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The articles we read by Byron had a lot of really thought-provoking and true comments.  I am going to address a couple of the things he discussed.  First of all, he wrote that, “There are many people especially elderly people, who tend to believe whatever they hear on the news and tend to naturally become fearful.”  I could not agree with him more.  I think a lot of people of the younger generation rely on many sources for their news and are less likely in general to watch the TV news.  However, older people who grew up before the 1980s when consultants began being hired by news stations do not realize that they need to be skeptical of these news stations motives.  In my last two summer jobs I worked and dealt with elderly people on a daily basis, I heard them comment regularly on the horrors they saw on the news the night before.  They would comment on how in the good old days they didn’t need to even lock their doors, but now they fear being robbed.  On the hand, I understand that news stations should report on these events (murders, robbers, etc.) are part of the news; however, as Byron points out the way in which they report on these events in order to sensationalize them unnecessarily worries people.  As Byron later explains, “to keep viewers, they portray the exception as the rule…”

Another important point that Byron touches on is the issue of video/picture use.  Katie, in her blog, does a good job of discussing this as well.  It is very easy for reporters to take a picture of something and then manipulate it to make things look different than they actually are.  People too readily believe that since there is visual “proof,” it must be true.  He always dealt with the dilemma of file videos/pictures.  As Dr. Jerz mentioned the other day it is very convenient to have pictures of certain people on file, so if a story comes up about them, one does not have to run around searching for a picture of them.  Byron points out another side to this though, which is particularly relevant for videos.  Using a file video of random people can be offensive to those in it.  It just goes to show that as a journalist one must be very careful about almost every move they make.  What seems like the easiest thing to do may have harmful effects on other people.  Careful thoughts must be put into all decisions and one is on a strict time schedule (like in TV news), it’s easy to take short-cuts, but these short-cuts do have consequences. 

The last thing I want to comment on is the balance that the TV news has to find.  Yes, they do sensationalize things, but they can’t just talk about blood and guts the whole time.  Byron states, “Their last act is to leave viewers with the impression that no matter how many bad things are reported, all will be well with the world overnight so they can sleep well.”  Their job is to sensationalize, entertain, and emphasize emotion, yet they can’t just go all out.  They need to find the correct balance between fear and security, sadness and happiness.  If they go too far, they will upset their viewers.  So while there is the exaggerated news side, they can’t go too far.   

Read other thoughts on Byron's articles.

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