Wednesday, April 17, 2013

It Starts...

Credit to Reddit user bobbonew for taking a picture of his/her TV

We've seen the news broadcasts, read the articles, probably even spent a little too much time reading other peoples opinions on Facebook. We know by now that bombs went off in Boston, somebody did it, and somebody is going to pay for it, but until then, we need to watch our backs. Why? Because someone is trying to hurt us. There are people out there who hate that we are America and they aren't, and they want to kill us. We're not telling you to panic, but you shouldn't be not panicing. I found this picture on under the title "and the fear mongering begins." The comment chain associated with the picture was full of anti-media rants by Reddit's seemingly intellectual and persistently left leaning userbase. It reminded me of all those times the television told me that I should be extra careful because today is orange, even though yesterday was yellow. I didn't know why our national security was judged on a rainbow chart that could have hung in any daycare center, but I was sure glad I was able to watch the news so they could tell me how scared I should be.

The point I'm trying to make here is that what happened in Boston was an act of terror, meant to terrorize, to cause us as a nation to halt our daily proceedings so we can stop and be scared. So why does the media say things like "How safe are we?" or "How safe are your kids" or "How safe is your car?" I understand those last two weren't acts of terrorism, but they are shining examples of our media trying to scare us, and it's not to protect us, it's for ratings, for sweeps, for paychecks.

This ABC News affiliate isn't helping our country through this trying time by completing the work for whatever psycho tried to blow up downtown Boston. It doesn't matter if it was a Saudi national or some crazy eyed white guy who thinks he got screwed on his taxes. Things like this happen all the time, and no amount of news report watching or nail biting is going to make us any safer. We just don't need to be afraid.

Anyone else have any thoughts on the media scare tactics and fear mongering?


  1. I definitely agree that these tactics are being used "for ratings, for sweeps, [and] for paychecks," as you stated. And I also agree that "no amount of news report watching or nail biting is going to make us any safer," but that isn't to say the media doesn't serve a purpose in these situations. If we can be made safer and we can prevent incidents like this from "happen[ing] all the time," then shouldn't we try? While the media cannot do anything within itself, it may at least get more people asking questions--questions which may eventually incite action. And I don't really know what those actions are, but I have a hard time accepting such attacks as frequent inevitabilities.

    All in all, I think it'd be most beneficial to accept the media's message with a grain of salt. While we cannot let such attacks perpetuate a culture of fear (i.e. substantiating the goals of terrorism and leading to rash decision making), we also shouldn't just brush them under the rug and move on without considering their implications.

  2. It's important to be aware of a situation. Knowledge is power and what not. However, this all kind of refers back to Postman's suggestion that the media gives us incoherent, irrelevant, and impotent information. How relevant is it for me to know what's happening miles and miles away from me, and will it actually impact my life today? Or, is the media just trying to scare me for ratings and money? Am I being scammed by the media for making me afraid, or am I actually given information that is useful for my current life?

  3. I do agree with you in some respects. It definitely isn't the media's job to try and scare us into watching the news.

    However, it is their job to report on these things. And there's been a lot of scary things going on in the world recently. I think there is often that "who is safe" topic when the media is trying to put out information so quickly. We as the audience want information fast, and yet, if we aren't given what is expected, or given information that is not truth we are upset.

    I think the media needs to take its time in reporting so that there are solid facts before stories become so focused on scare tactics to keep a viewer on their particular channel.

  4. I agree with Jacob's comment about watching the media with a grain of salt. As citizens and consumers of media, the best thing we can do and make ourselves aware of the sub-agendas of media. This does not mean that we should avoid all types of media all together. Instead, if we are aware of the media's many flaws then we can prevent it from scarring us to the point where we go out and by an automatic rifle (which, thanks to our congress, is about as easy as buying a candy bar at a gas station). As insufficient as the media is, we still owe it to ourselves to be responsible and critical viewers. So perhaps the bigger problem in our culture is that we do not put enough attention on media literacy and education about the media. In other words, instead of trying to solve all the problems of the media, it might be more practical to teach ourselves how to critically view and coexist with our insufficient media.

  5. I think what everyone here has said have been really good points. I think Melanie opens a good point about reporters or investigators feeding information too soon before getting multiple facts and presenting them in a manner that causes less fear. But fear is going to be enacted any way because audience members see this or learn anything about the subject and think that it could happen to them. So the media is going exploit what their viewers are going to be feeling and thinking.

    This topic (scare tactics of the news and media) kind of reminds me of writing a story and writing with suspense. You get as the reader a little information here and a little information there. Those pieces of information creep you out the more you learn, but keep you glued to the page (or screen). And we feed off of this. It keeps us more aware of what's around us. And that includes-as Derek puts it- being aware of the "sub-agendas of media." Or at least it should.

  6. As Melanie said, the media's job is to report the news. And as Derek and Jacob mentioned, it comes down to, as Postman discussed in the final chapter, HOW we watch it. We need to realize that the news media is a business and will be after ratings and take the things they say with a grain or two of salt.

    I don't think it is their job to try and scare anyone, but they can put whatever headlines they want. People ought to take in the information and draw their own conclusions about how scared or not they will be.