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December 09, 2003

Looking for the good in bad news. Does reporting negative news reflect the world we live in or is it simply lazy journalism?

That was the weighty question debated at the Images and Voices of Hope workshop. Guest speaker, Jacqueline Berg, a freelance journalist from the Netherlands, accused journalists of reinforcing prejudies and fuelling fear - with the public becoming desensitised to human suffering as a result...

"The way people see the world is through our cameras and what we write," Berg told Daily Summit. "The impact of that is enormous and I don't think that the media realises the cause and effect of what it portrays.

"They shape people's beliefs and values but also fuel their fears and reinforce prejudices. If we only focus on the things that separate people, then we encourage animosity.There is so much bad news that people have become immune to it and the suffering of our fellow human beings. Life has become a movie and news is presented as entertainment."

She also called for the media to actively challenge stereotypes. "If prejudices are not denied then they are automatically confirmed," she argued. "If the media does not clear up these misunderstandings, then they are taken for granted."

A powerful corrective? Or a sentimental distraction? You decide...

Claire Regan @ December 9, 2003 07:48 PM

Comments (3)
I think she's spot on. The media frequently either don't seem to realise the power they wield - unless they are knowingly acting extremely irresponsibly at times. The media proudly tell us they are there to hold governments to account - who holds the media to account?
Dan Walters @ December 9, 2003 10:21 PM
there is more to life than bad news. But an ever hungry public is more interested in the other man or woman's misfortunes than in their personal achievements. Blame society.
jp mcm drake @ December 11, 2003 09:29 AM
There can be no coverage of triumphs if there are no triumphs; coverage of 'negative news' highlights the fact that little is actually done to counteract the negatives. I'd like to see more triumphs of mankind, but for some reason they are lacking. Perhaps the issue is that not enough is done about the negative news.

In Trinidad & Tobago, I stopped buying newspapers. I just ask people I know if anyone was murdered or kidnapped today... every day. Why? Because nothing, apparently, is being effectively done about the situation and I'm tired of all the negative news.

Triumphs would be nice, but if there are none, how can they be reported?
Taran @ December 11, 2003 03:46 PM

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