My 7-year-old son envisions random evildoers coming into our house and abducting him — and we don’t let him watch TV news. But how can anyone miss the danger teases that blast through prime time like buckshot?
And while we debase ourselves by playing voyeur to the pain of families immersed in tragedy, we ignore far more ominous problems that don’t as readily lend themselves to televised emoting. How many of us read the New Yorker’s three-part series on global climate change this spring? That was scary, and you can’t escape it by staying west of Hwy. 100.
Lest I harp on the passive citizen too much, ultimate responsibility has to lie with my colleagues in the press. Though not all of us have the wherewithal to comfort the afflicted and afflict the comfortable (one of the pithier old saws articulating journalism’s purpose), none of us should be willing to rationalize leaving the world more ignorant than we found it. —Adam Platt —Gone, but not forgotten by the media (Star Tribune)
A good critique. Platt notes that TV journalism returns to the same subjects — the abduction of attractive young women — because the public eats it up.
The occasion for this essay is the 10th anniversary of the disappearance of an Iowa news anchor — a tragedy that’s still being milked by TV journalists.
This reminds me of the excellent Onion article that asked, as the anniversary of 9-11 approached, which network will best help the nation deal with its grief?
And to Platt I say, there’s a great way to avoid the sensationalistic prime-time news promos: turn off the TV.