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Media sensationalism - helpful or harmful - share your thoughts

by Ali's Wonderland (follow)
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It often concerns me how much the media influences our opinions and behaviours. Media plays such a large part of our lives, we are constantly bombarded with news stories everywhere we turn.

We are constantly bombarded with news and events on television, social media, radio, the Internet and in the papers. Image source: www.freedigitalphotos.net News Media Stock Image By Renjith Krishnan.

Recently, there has been a spike in 'one punch' attacks within the community. Originally the media dubbed these types of attacks as 'king hits.' Then, in an attempt to remove the 'heroism' of this act, renamed them 'one punch' incidents. I wonder, if they didn't sensationalise them in the first place, if they would have become such an epidemic.

Another hot topic in the media at the moment is the release of Schapelle Corby from an Indonesian prision. At the time of her conviction way back in 2005, the volume of media attention was unprecedented. It makes me wonder, if the case was kept out of the spotlight, would she have received a lighter or harsher penalty? Was she given a concession due to the pressure placed on the Indonesian Government as a result of the media presence or did they make an example of her to deter other foreigners from smuggling drugs into their country?

How much does the media presence influence the outcome of criminal cases? Image source: www.freedigitalphotos.net "Hand In Jail" by sakhorn38

Another concerning trend in this modern society is the way TV stations sensationalise crimes and criminal behaviour. For years now, Channel 9 has streamed series after series of Underbelly - telling the story of the notorious gang wars in Australia's history. Even more disturbing is the new series 'Inside Story' that looks at real life criminal cases and analyses the behaviour of the criminals. In my opinion, the information disclosed by professionals in last weeks episode 'Crocodile Tears' was unnecessary and had the potential to assist future criminals to better disguise their crimes. Why does this information need to be shared? I don't understand the reason for this sensationalism, except of course to raise the ratings of the TV station.

Traditionally, the media is responsible for keeping our society up to date with events in our communities. However, it seems more and more, waters are often muddied depending on which media source you use to get your information and ultimately, who they are backed by. As a society, I think we need to take a step back and decide for ourselves what is fact and what is fiction.

At the heart of all these stories are real people, in real situations. I now take what I hear from the media with a pinch of salt and try, hard as it may be, not to buy into the sensationalism.

What are your thoughts on the role the media plays in shaping your opinions? Do you think they play a big role in influencing our society?

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