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Disturbing news, media impact

12:10 AM May 15, 2017

Every night, I see to it that I watch news from the Philippines via YouTube. The kinds of news I see are saddening, though I perfectly understand that these have to be reported because they happen in reality and that citizens have the right to know.

However, the way media in general present reality in the form of news does bother me. Maybe, time will come that even a raw footage of someone committing suicide by hanging will be shown. In 1999, the execution by lethal injection of convicted child rapist Leo Echegaray was aired on (Philippine) national TV and, until now, the scenes I saw on TV 17 years ago—the step by step process of making someone’s heartbeat stop through a series of injections, and how a pale reddish human being on his deathbed turned into a yellowish corpse after the last shot of the lethal injection—still haunt me at night.

I know and I believe that news should not be censored, but media should consider the general audience every time they present images and videos. There are times that I could not stand watching some reports because of the brutality being shown—bloody dead bodies (in close-up shots), abused and maltreated children, fetus in plastic bags, and many other disturbing images.

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A few months ago, I saw on news a raw CCTV footage of a student being stabbed (18 times) to death by holdup men. The video even went viral on social media a few hours after being aired on national TV. I imagine my five-year-old and 14-year-old boys watching all these at home.

I hope that the media will be more sensitive and responsible for the sake of the young viewers and take into consideration the fact that images can be very disturbing to the young.

For movies, the censorship board sets age restrictions on the basis of the movies’ contents, values, influence, theme, etc. In terms of news reporting, I think that the media have somehow forgotten a certain responsibility toward young viewers. I am aware, too, that in these times, media education is needed, but it’s not all the time that parents, teachers and adults are present to help the young process uncensored information. (There are times that I could not even process these myself.)

I do not suggest that news be censored, but I believe that there are news images that are not fit for the young to watch and are suited only for late-night news, or that should not accompany their corresponding news reports. I could not help but reflect on the powerful impact the
media have in shaping public minds, attitudes, standards and social change.

LESLIE D. IRANG, t.leslie_irang@yahoo.com

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