Thursday, September 13, 2007

Ratings should not drive news coverage

I am worried that this is the direction our own media is taking as of late as news shows increasingly aim to entertain viewers rather than to accurately inform them. Competition for ratings can lead to bad reporting and sensationalism, or even fake reports. This is what happened last month in India, and it lead to the assault of a woman framed for a crime that she did not commit.

According to the BBC, a television show that purportedly conducts 'sting operations' and airs them faked a sting involving a teacher, making it appear that she had been forcing students into prostitution. After the story aired, parents assaulted the teacher before she was arrested. She spent 10 days in jail. As there is no evidence that she is guilty, the woman has now been released and the journalist who made the report has been arrested. It will be interesting to see what happens to him and to the channel that aired the report.

Hummm... perhaps, when it comes to certain institutions and services designed to serve and protect the public, unchecked free market forces don't best serve the public best interest.


MarkH said...

So, do you have access to Lexis-Nexis? I'd like to see someone do an experiment on media coverage. I'd like to see a breakdown of coverage of kidnappings of blacks vs whites, and the relative media coverage compared to the rates of these crimes among the population.

I suspect that we'll see every time a cute little white girl gets kidnapped, all other news hits the backburner, while any time blacks are victimized in this country it flies under the radar.

Yes, I realize that this is common sense, but I think a systematic study would get a lot of attention, and force the media to address the issue of differing coverage based on what gets ratings, and the underlying racism of our society that this represents.

You should do it.

La Pobre Habladora said...

It's a good idea and an important issue. The underlying racism of our society as represented by what is NOT getting covered also appals me as I search my bloglines daily for some mainstream coverage of the Jena 6 injustice.

Casmall said...

Habladora. Go to and sign in. What searches should we use, I don't know.