How media can mislead us PDF Print E-mail
Friday, 20 June 2014 11:32



Media is a very potent force to promote good or its  opposite. This is one statement we can make in life that need not be debated. If there is to be any discussion very likely it will be on whether what seems to be a good promoted by media is really a good, after all.

Let us take some  of  the celebrities that have become favorites for  media coverage  – Miley Cyrus, the Kardashians, Pamela Anderson, Kris  Aquino, Anne Curtis, to name just a few. Just exactly what do they have to offer the world that we have to constantly read or hear about them? If anything, the younger generation of the world might be better off if the likes of these people did not have to influence them. How Miley Cyrus gets away with how she acts and dresses is beyond me. When I read or see photos of her, especially those from her latest tour, I wish that I did not, on principle,  disapprove of something like the Virtue Police present in some countries. She should be in the “persons of interest” list of the Virtue Police. Her blatant use of sexual symbols and innuendos is vulgar and disgusting.

Kim Kardashian is a mystery for me. I can’t for the life of me understand what her celebrity status is based on. But that is how things stand – she is a celebrity because she is famous; she is famous because she is a celebrity.

And there is the media coverage of terrorist suicide bombings. Very often incidents of this type take place in countries like Nigeria, Pakistan, Afghanistan, Sudan, the Xingiang area of China and the like. If such incidents are reported in the media the reporting either  gives undue focus on the religious affiliation of  the terrorist/s  or simply sets it aside as irrelevant.

I quite agree that we should not conflate suicide bombing with Islam. Suicide bombings should always be taken in the appropriate context – a group in Afghanistan making a political protest; a group in Xingiang upping the ante for secession from China; the Boko Haram pursuing its own objectives. These bombings may not  be in any way related to religion but the bombers belong to a religious group and people make their own conclusions. The actual context of the bombing gets lost. Besides, reporters do not always provide the context with each news they report in.

Context and objectivity are just two of the qualities we expect in good reporting. And yet we know that these are not the only ones. Primarily there is the need to be  accurate in how an event is reported: what happened, who were involved, when, where and the numbers, if any.

It is when the primary requirements are not met that media can be no better than no news at all. But it is when media is not objective, or when media is manipulative by slurring over the context that media can be dangerous. And the irony of it  is that the stronger the reputation of the media outfit is, the more likely we fail to scrutinize its objectivity. And the manipulation of the media followers then becomes.