Monday, January 31, 2011

Essay on Power of the Media

Essay on Power of the Media

The media has impacted society for decades by selectively reporting what they feel the public needs to know. Therefore, reporters are able to brainwash their audience by offering numerous distractions including opinions. Opinions, true or false, often alter society's view. In the sniper case, as in many other cases, instead of informing the pubic, the media inundates the viewer with biased information. The sniper case of October 2002 is a prime example of the media controlling and manipulating public knowledge. The media frenzy hurts these cases more than it helps them. The media not only informed society about the sniper case but also included numerous distractions and irrelevant information and attracted unnecessary publicity.

Although the media was able to help solve the sniper case, all the distraction and superfluous information was unnecessary. The lack of relevant information provided in the sniper case caused news producers to get creative by adding extraneous elements in their productions. For example, the media often showed reenactments. In the sniper case, manikins were used to demonstrate the positions of the bodies. They also used manikins to demonstrate the path of the bullet as it traveled through the body. Not only were the demonstrations harmful to the victims’ families, but they were also irrelevant.



Reporters often overwhelm viewers with irrelevant information and useless opinions. Journalist, Mike Drew admits that in the first few days of the sniper attacks, it was unknown whether the sniper was attacking alone or was a male or female. However, the 24-hour news channels were using “he” and “him” when referring to the sniper.

There were also assumptions that the shooter was Caucasian, although he was African American (Drew). The police had few leads and limited the amount of information released to the press. However, the media reported any information remotely related to the case. At one point, the media had the public focusing on a white van.

Everyone at the crime scenes searched for a white van; unfortunately, white vans are extremely common. Innocent people willingly surrendered to being searched; their only crime was driving a white van. Looking for suspicious people or events might have been more effective in this case; however, the media gave away what might have been a possible lead. Therefore, it is important to remember that everything the media reports is not only available to the honest public but also to the potential suspect and other unlawful people.

Although officials limited the amount of information released, reporters often did a little investigating on their own. Through investigation, reporters may obtain crucial information. However, releasing information too soon increases the chances of hindering the police from solving the case; it is also possible to give away crucial information that could jeopardize the case. Not only does it make the case more difficult to solve, but all the media coverage puts ideas into the minds of criminals allowing them to learn from the mistakes of others. Through the media and the internet, it has become easier for violent offenders to obtain information. All of the media coverage assists criminals when perfecting their strategy. In the sniper case, the shooter was able to prove that whatever patterns he had, he could break. Police believed “he was striking in a small area of Montgomery County,” James Alan Fox, a criminologist at Northeastern University in Boston, explains; however, “his next move, of course, was to go to Virginia. So they said he is only targeting adults, children are safe. So his next move was to kill a child” (Stolberg). The media’s false assumptions helped perfect the sniper’s plan by misleading officials.

The media failed to consider any circumstances in their reports. Reporters used all sources of information that might have pertained to the case. Some reporters had no problem attacking officials or ruining reputations as long as they obtained “news.” News broadcasting stations focused solely on the sniper case for weeks. At times the media was forced to report opinions instead of facts; opinions are easy to misinterpret. Analysts, doctors, professionals, and nobodies were constantly being interviewed, sharing their thoughts and opinions. The reporters, like their viewers, often make false assumptions based on the opinions of “professionals.” Due to the lack of “news,” reporters interviewed Mohammad's father on CNN. Mohammad's father's relationship to the case is unknown. The father had not seen Mohammad in four years, nor were the viewers able to understand anything he said due to "technical difficulties" and the fact that he spoke with a Jamaican accent. As long as the interview draws in viewers, the station is content, despite the fact that the viewers gain no knowledge from watching the program.

When “battling for scraps of information” to draw in viewers, reporters often let things “get out of control”(Drew). The news deals with actual events in our communities; it has an enormous impact on our lives. Therefore, the media has the power to shape the public's opinion. Due to the media’s effect on the sniper case, a federal judge has refused to allow open access to the court hearing for 17-year-old John Lee Malvo. The Washington Post, Baltimore Sun, and New York Times filed motions to be allowed to attend the hearing; however, the media has already planted a seed in the viewers’ mind. There is no question; the public has decided John Mohammad and his companion, John Lee Malvo, are guilty. Although it has not been proven, the power of suggestion the media has over the public has become stronger than the facts. Everyone wants the case to be closed, and there is comfort in an arrest that the media supports. The sniper is obviously a criminal genius; could he have framed Mohammad? The gun was in his vehicle, so does it belong to him? Two lives are at stake; reporters should not be the ones to decide their punishment, but too much faith has been put into the media.

There is a fine line between news and gossip. The effects of the media on society are critical. It was obvious in the sniper case there was little information and a lot of speculation. Instead of reporting the news and informing society, the media reported anything related to the case, whether the information found was relevant or not.

In the media’s defense, reporters often quote the First Amendment: "Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibit the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or of the right of the people peaceable to assemble, and to petition the government for a redress of grievances." However, the founding fathers could not foresee the future, and at one time, a man's integrity was his bond. Hence, now days, reporters should use honor in their reporting. The media should look not only at the facts but consider the impact of those they report on.

Warning!!! All free online essays, sample essays and essay examples on Media topics are plagiarized and cannot be completely used in your school, college or university education.

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