By Ashton Weis
We all hope that bad things don’t happen. But when they do, it’s our job to cover them and inform the public. Then the next set of challenges arises: How are we going to present the information? Where are we going to put it? Will this disrespect another group?
One example in the news recently is the young man who committed suicide because of bullying at his school. This story contains many different players and it our job to decide how to portray them, the way we paint in them in the story could define them for the rest of their lives. Here are the ways that four different media outlets portrayed this story:
4. The Huffington Post: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/04/17/kenneth-weishuhn-gay-iowa-teen-suicide_n_1431442.html
Each one of these media outlets does something a little different from the last. Fox gives the strict AP story, without any pictures, videos or sound bites. The Des Moines Register takes a little different approach and presents a video with the sister and friends of the victim. They also included some social media aspects. GlobalGrind allows more of an opinionated approach . The Huffington Post connects the story into a larger commentary on bullying.
For the most part, it is easy to see why each outlet used the story the way they did. Fox is simply telling the news, because of its national focus. The Register is much more concerned with the information, because it is pertinent to their readers. GlobalGrind doesn’t usually appear to deal with such hard news, but has a much more entertainment-y focus. The Huffington Post is attempting to show that this is part of a much bigger problem.
The way we, as journalists, present information matters. And it’s important to consider who your readers are in doing so. So, my question is: what message would you want to convey with this story and how would you achieve that through presentation?