Sensational reporting degrades Pinoy psyche | Inquirer Opinion

Sensational reporting degrades Pinoy psyche

/ 03:20 AM May 18, 2011

I DEPLORE the tendency of media to gravitate toward the dramatic and sensational in their coverage of the news. Their frenzied “pursuit of weeping and tears” produces what we can only call a “pornography of grief.”

This egregious practice was annoyingly evident again during the coverage of the execution of the three Filipino drug mules in China last March. Reporters went all over town “documenting” on camera the emotional reactions of members of the convicted drug mules’ families. The media networks made sure they recorded every tear, every wail and every pained word of their subjects as they competed to present the rawest, most dramatic coverage of the execution. But what was the news value of all this?

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Sensationalist reporting is not just bad or harmless journalism. It destroys something in our national psyche and degrades us. For the subjects of the reportage, not only is their privacy violated; their dignity is taken away as well when they are shown in their most abject and vulnerable grieving state. For the news viewers, the quality of information they get has a bearing on the opinions they form and decisions they make. For example, when people see an emotional person denying to high heaven something against all evidence and circumstance, they too get to imbibe the feeling that they are as much entitled to shamelessly bend the truth in their favor should they or their families fall into a similar situation. Thus, subordinated to drama, truth becomes a casualty.

Another bane in this kind of reporting is that it promotes mendicancy when people become comfortable crying before the cameras, knowing this will get them cash and sympathy.

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Every major network is always trying to outdo the competition in proclaiming that it is the station that delivers genuine service. But who are they kidding? What they’re doing is a big public disservice.

—V. FIDEL GUIDOTE,

[email protected]

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TAGS: Letters to the Editor, Media, opinion, sensationalism
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