While I am still very angry about all of this, I have some faith in the fact that millions of people are just as pissed as I am about the reporting on the Steubenville rape trial and verdict. I posted yesterday’s post, Very Good Students to the Gawker and CNN sites that originally ran the stories and my little blog has blown up because of it. While I am glad for the traffic, and I am also glad that so many people feel the way I do about the media and the reporting on this – I just really wish the attention was due to something more positive. However – since you all are here reading, I think we can change this attitude in our country if enough of us actually try and do something about it.
Yesterdays post was 100% anger and emotion. Today I would like to take a less emotional approach and evaluate why we have allowed the media to report in this way. The 24 hour news cycle, social media, and our insatiable appetite to be ‘entertained’ by our news sources has led to this decline of moral responsibility from reporters. Americans love a train wreck. We watch and pay for news that is sensationalized because reporting on the firemen saving a cat from a tree just isn’t entertaining enough. It is OUR fault that the media behaves this way – and it will take everyone of us to change what we have created.
Do you think that CNN had two female reporters all bleeding heart for the criminals on accident? No – they figured the backlash would be less because it was women reporting and not men. Had male reporters done the same story – women would have FREAKED OUT about men promoting a rape culture. CNN was smart though – they had two female reporters – maybe mothers of football players in HS talk about these poor kid’s futures. As we sit on our couches watching this – maybe it was acceptable because women are the softer sex, we are mothers and we have empathy for our children even when they behave like horrible monsters. Yes – let the women report on this ‘spin’. America will respond – and we have.
Just like my little blog yesterday – CNN’s website is probably receiving record breaking traffic. Sensationalism, and emotion sells. Who knows maybe those news reporters were ill after having to feign pity for those boys, but their jobs are secure. Ratings are up, web traffic is up. There is absolutely no long term negative consequence for this type of reporting. In a few weeks, we will move on. This story won’t be even a thought in our minds, but the next time something atrocious happens like this – we will tune in – just to see what they say. Love them or hate them, we are fueling this by watching, reading, commenting and sharing. They aren’t going to have a change of heart until they have a change of income. This business model works. If we are angry – we are watching. So why not push our buttons a little bit? We aren’t going to stop watching – we are going to comment, share and talk about it even if we are adamantly against it. We are angry and they are making money off of every post and broadcast.
I am a news junky; however I have stopped watching my local news all together. I tune in for the weather and that’s about it. I used to watch the Today Show every morning, and they have gotten so ridiculous I don’t watch that anymore either. I have never watched Fox News, and I tune in to MSNBC rarely (every once in a while to watch Rachel Maddow) but even then I just watch online mostly so I can see the stories I want, and not spend time watching them interview Honey Boo Boo and discuss their warped views on society – I don’t care what they think, they are not my friends or family, they are reporters and journalists I am not entertained by the them nor do I care about their personal opinions. I don’t want to be – I want to be INFORMED not entertained. As Joe Friday used to say, “Just the facts Ma’am.”
I have a lot more to say about yesterdays story and why CNN and other media outlets decided that this was a good approach to take. Not only does it have to do with ratings, but it also has to do with our attitudes about rape; especially when it involves children. Fox News ‘leaked’ the rape victims name yesterday – and of course other news outlets followed suit. Even negative attention makes them money – but this poor girl – who no one seems to care about, is now receiving death threats. She ruined the town she lives in by coming forward. She ruined these boys futures. She is the monster according to the media. No wonder we are a rape culture. No wonder 16 year old boys think they could molest and rape an unconscious girl and not think for even one second how wrong it was. No wonder no one stood up for her, or stood against her perpetrators. There is no glory in that; and that dear readers is OUR fault as a society.
I would love to hope that this story and it’s backlash will change the media landscape. I would love to believe that as a society we have had enough of the sensationalism of blaming the victim and pitying the perpetrator. I would love to think that we will stand against this trend and stop watching and stop rewarding this kind of reporting.
People won’t though. People NEED to be entertained, even at the expense of a 16 year old girl whose life is forever ruined because she went to a party with her ‘friends’ and got raped because she got drunk (not because her ‘friends’ are animals), and the media has made her a villain.
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