Violence in news has a love-hate relationship with its viewers. You’ll often hear people exclaim that the news is the most violent programming on television. Whether this is the fault of the news channels or the environment for which it is expected to report in is pretty clear cut. Feel good reporting has its merits but really is a distraction from what purpose the news serves. To remain informed on our surroundings is our civil duty and to ignore such a duty can result in dire consequences.
Natural disasters occur more than we like to acknowledge. The aftermath of a tornado, hurricane, or earthquake can be one the most eye opening experiences you can have. Yet some part of the population feels that we should be sheltered from carnage because it is unpalatable. How can one justify ignoring suffering to prevent suffering. It is only by dwelling in truth that we can begin to take hold of it and change it for the better. Just hearing or reading about travesty makes it easily forgettable and thus only weighs down relief effort. Why do people spend most of their time watching television, playing video games, or going to movies than other modes of entertainment? The imagery stimulates them more and leaves a longer lasting impression.
How can we draw a line? Recently FOX news aired a car thief committing suicide live on television by accident. Was this vision of violence necessary for viewers to watch? How about dead bodies under the rubble of homes from the 2010 Haiti earthquake? Should networks hold the power the discern between the two? One can answer by saying one will call for action while the other helps no one. We then have to dwell deeper into questions of exploitation versus exposition. A never ending spiral of conundrums where there are no facts, only interpretations. “Why does man not see things? He is himself standing in the way: he conceals things.” -Friedrich Nietzsche