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Thursday, September 22, 2005

News or sensationalism?

I was struck last night about the news coverage for the plane that landed at LAX in Los Angeles. The pilot did a great job in landing the plane.

I was grateful that everyone was okay.

But what if everything had not been okay? What if the plane had crashed and burned and everybody died?

It's a horrible question but it leads me to this.

When does a "news event" become sensationalism? Accident chasing?

And then...I watched on the news this morning that the passengers on the plane were watching their own landing because of the news reports that were being broadcasted live to each passenger (Each passenger had a T.V. screen in front of them - in the back of the airplane seat in front of them).

That would be wild - almost surreal! Would I want that to be on the screen?

Would you?

Again, the hard question - what if things had gone bad? They would have been watching their own deaths on T.V.!

How far should the media go in bringing us "live" news?

Interested to hear your comments.


Chris Smith said...

In the same way that we now watch wars from our armchairs I suppose. The camera eye is so pervasive that we now live in a big brother world. If you live in London it is estimated that you will be recorded on at least 30 cameras just walking to your nearest railstation. With that amount of coverage available in the world it is no wonder the temptation to report on everything is there. I'm not sure what my point is..... I suppose it's this. There is a flipside. I once remember reading in a national newspaper (London edition) on page 26 of a police car chase and gun battle that raged through the streets near my place of work. I didn't see this on the national news or even hear about it on local radio. You might think this sort of thing happens in London everday but it doesn't really. I think what makes the news is the ability of the newscaster to produce some kind of titillation or human interest angle which keeps us all hooked. Otherwise we don't even raise an eyebrow.

I don't know. That sounded better in my head.

Jon said...

Newspaper and TV adage: "If it bleeds, it leads." Barring that, shock value works. How often have we heard positive stories leading the news? We so often have to hear about disaster before we can hear about relief efforts...even weeks after the disaster, we still must get the photos/word images before reports of people helping out.

As far as watching myself, I guess that would depend on where I found myself in my relationship with God. If I was lacking, I'd like to have the extra minute or two of warning prior to leaving this world to make sure (REAL SURE) that I was right. If I wasn't lacking (and who really isn't at some level or another, we all sin though we as Christians should be trying very hard to resist the temptation to do so) then I guess I could spend the time thanking God for all He has done in my life. One thing I know, I wouldn't worry about what the reporter was saying because I'd be having other conversations...with God, with my seat mates to ensure that they had heard the Good News, to anyone who would listen to God's plan of salvation for that matter! But watching that situation live would be pretty surreal!

I just want a good (happy) news story to lead the news...the problem with being a global economy and being linked to the globalization of communication is that there will always be a crisis somewhere that will take time away from the good being done in this world. Not that I'm saying that we should not be compassionate for those caught up in strife...on the contrary, we need to keep all of them in our prayers on a daily basis...but that the positives of our world get buried beneath the negatives and this can sometimes lead to a spirit of futility. Let's uplift our people! Let's sing the praises of our nation and our Lord to the rooftops, to the clouds, to the heavens! Let's see the beauty of God's world...I used to love to watch Charles Kerwalt (I think that's his name) on Sunday mornings because he always made sure to give images of beauty in our lives...that's what we need to see.

Look for God's beauty today!