I read an interesting story this morning in Long Reads. Rob Tannenbaum wrote well about Olympic athlete Stella Walsh. One sentence has stuck with me.
It seems quaint now for a news station to debate whether or not to run a sensationalistic story. [sic]
The Life and Murder of Stella Walsh, Intersex Olympic Champion – Rob Tannenbaum
Mr. Tannenbaum alludes to the attitude of today’s media. There’s no questions now, run it and get the glory before someone else does. That’s where all the disaffection with media starts. I don’t see any of the parts of the media machine, and especially the whole monster, considering consequences. Reporters and their bosses just don’t seem to care if they hurt someone or destroy their life. It seems they are already biased and feel that the person deserves these things.
To be empathetic to the person in the report may also be considered bias. Why is that? The facts are still presented, the story is told, the media outlet gets its scoop. The person they are writing about is treated with consideration and the reporter would be on reasonable terms with the “reportee”, which could lead to a number of follow-up stories that their competitors do not have.
The media are not logical. I’m a scientist and us scientists investigate every day. We are logical, passionate and quirky. We are not biased because we love our work. We still rely on data to draw our conclusions. Therefore, the reporters can be kind while getting the scoop, yeah? I’m not demonizing “the media” because I know there are a lot of reporters out there that do have a conscience. I just don’t understand why they don’t ride herd on their peers and make it clear that “big news” doesn’t require cruel reporting or that someone else’s pain is not news. It shouldn’t be considered “quaint” to report in ways that cause no (or minimum) hurt, or not to report at all. Some things just aren’t the world’s business.