Monday, August 17, 2015

Is the public responsible for violence journalism?

Recent tweet:
The media often show us what we want, are we responsible for #violencejournalism ?
Jillian Mourning
@ jillianmourning
Charlotte, NC

Dear Jillian, Peace Media Coop Class:

Good question.

If I as a parent feed a toddler nothing but junk food, and the child gets fat, is the toddler responsible for his obesity? Yes, the toddler likes the junk food, but does this absolve the parent of negligence?

By the same token, the media know, or think they know, what audiences like: junk news like incessant, hysterical crime coverage, inflammatory race baiting, and blow-by-blow “breaking news” coverage that lacks substance or context. 

Peace journalism would argue that journalists have a higher responsibility to inform their public in a way that allows them to be productive, responsible citizens. There’s nothing wrong with the occasional burger and fries. However, that doesn’t mean that we can shirk our responsibility to provide vegetables—substantive, contextual news that informs rather than shocks; news that objectively presents multiple perspectives ; news that offers analysis.

Media worldwide buy into the notion that audiences will only consume junk news. Research has shown this to be false. One study, by Professor Jake Lynch, shows that audiences prefer peace journalism framed stories that offer more substance than show. (See Peace Journalist magazine; page 3). Another study shows that readers prefer journalism that offers solutions rather than just spotlighting problems. 

Peace journalists, good journalists, must assume responsibility for what they report and how they report it.

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