Why Does The Media Scare You?
Because They Can
You turn on your local news and somewhere in your state there has been an accident. This was no ordinary accident though. An unidentified person (You will later find out that it was a man who, though this information has no relevance to the accident, had been released from prison the week before after serving time for a crime that the news reporter will make sound worse than it was.) was flipping through takeout menus as they passed through a four way stop at the precise moment when both a clown family in a clown car and a woman driving a souped-up tractor blew their stop signs. While no one was badly injured, the fact that a clown car, a tractor and a car driven by a former convict collided is so rare that it’s worthy of the top story slot. As a faithful news watcher, you can’t help, but draw similarities between an accident from six weeks ago involving a lion tamer and a bus full of nuns that took place two streets over from you. Even though you’re normally a calm, clear-headed person, you are suddenly overwhelmed with fear. If these everyday accidents keep occurring between average people and a circus person, how long will it be before you get run off the road by a fire eater? This is exactly where the news people want you, in front of the television, unable to move.
Though my story is a bit of an exaggeration, it often takes a magnifying glass to see an issue fully. Every time I turn on the news, I feel as if the reporters, through talent and the sparkle of their ultra white teeth, get me to pay attention to a story I wouldn’t otherwise care to know. Furthermore, they make me feel as if the events from the story will one day impact my life.
As a country, the events of 9/11 are always in the back of our minds. Can it happen to us again? Is Obama doing as much as he can to keep us safe? Why is that plane flying so close? When a news story comes on that touches upon terrorism, for me, it’s September 11, 2001 again. My ears perk up. My eyes widen. My head retains the information. Even when I hear it was a false alarm and thousands of miles away, it still makes me wonder. Since 9/11, I’ve made an effort to watch the news as often as I can.
The fact that news stations slide in such a scary story between a movie review and piece on cats has always bothered me a lot. As someone who contemplated becoming a journalist and took classes on this topic, I know why these stations do this. They slide in such story to make people become afraid and to doubt their safety. They want to keep people watching and in order to do so they only drop a couple of points at a time, promising to tell more later. If you’re counting on them to keep you informed, they can count on you to stick with them through the fluff. It’s not right, but its business.
On the other hand, if you believe that some news stations report the truths that other stations (supposedly under pressure from the White House) refuse to spill, the “fear and doubt” is necessary. While this truth is uncomfortable, personal discomfort more often than not inspires you to do something. Filled with such fear, can you write to your local representatives/congressmen/senators and encourage them to speak candidly with the community? If you are so doubtful of your safety and no one is answering you, can you form a group and together demand some answers? Who knows. Maybe you might even make the news.
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