The mass media have provoked an important change in the way to inform. According to Jose Alberto Garcia Aviles (2003) www.boletinbit.tv/noticias/archivo/bit44_infotainment.htm the mix of information and entertainment is not a new phenomenon, it is known with the name of “infotainment”. The problem of this is that the majority of the news have become in a show.
The main consequence of “infotainment” is that the information becomes in a business, where the citizens are the consumers. The Companies of Audiovisual information observes the target. Its objective is get much more audience to obtain much more money and to have less competence.
My hypothesis about ‘the news as a show’ is focused in catastrophes, accidents or personal tragedies inside TV, since these are the clearest example to know why nowadays the news are treated as a show.
According to C.A.C (Audiovisual Council of Catalunya) www.audisualcat.net the news about catastrophes, accidents or personal tragedies provokes an emotional alteration towards people and the journalists.
This kind of news creates public interest by means of solidarity and pain or morbid curiosity. The people have the need to know what has happened because they have a proximity feeling, of this way the Audiovisual Companies create a demand of information.
The journalists and the Audiovisual Companies have the power of information. They have a big responsibility about this topic because they are who decide: to present a straight report on the events of the day or to broadcast the news as a show.
To obtain more audience, they broadcast morbid images about
catastrophes because they have much more impact in the persons. There are a connection between the morbid images and the proximity of people.
If they emit these images, they get much more audience, as soon as it is a strategy of market because it is a way to compete with the others TV channels.
My hypothesis studies the responsibility that the journalists and the audiovisual Companies have when they inform about tragic events.
The problem is that while ones have right to inform and to be informed, others have right to hide its intimacy. The journalists and the Audiovisual Companies have to know the allowed limit to record a tragic event. They must minimize the effects of disaster and they must have conscience about the repercussion of its activity.
The image is more impact than the voice. For this reason, the broadcasted news through TV affects much more to people. The journalist’s responsibility in TV is bigger than in others mass media; because a shocking image is very difficult forget it. The problem is that these images can be harmful to the victims, family, citizen, etc. If the broadcasted image is very morbid, provably it will have a seriously repercussion toward the family.
Example: a morbid image of a boy hurt seriously in a war. Is very different to know that this boy has died, than see him to die. The family must be informed but it doesn’t deserve more pain.
The journalists and Audiovisual Companies must find the balance between right to inform and right to the intimacy when they emit information and images about catastrophes, accidents or personal tragedies.
According to C.A.C (Audiovisual Council of Catalunya) www.audisualcat.net the journalists have the obligation to inform to people about their right to the intimacy. Sometimes the people don’t know it and the journalists make the most of them. Others times the Authorities, who should inform, don’t do it, therefore the journalists look for victims and affected people to cover the news.
Informing about this topic is not easy, for that reason the Audiovisual Companies should help and give to the journalists, moral support to guarantee good information.
Another possible solution could be don’t emit information constantly because it can increase the tragic effects. As well, they should shun the repeated use of the same images and the information that doesn’t contribute anything new.
The journalists also should avoid the zooms, close-up, etc. because it implies much more to the people.
The lexical used in the news is very important. They shouldn’t use adjectives, common places…. of a dramatic manner because it can frighten to the people.
The broadcast of images reflecting hunger, pain, bitterness, poverty, etc. can provoke moral damages.
EFFECTS AND CONSEQUENCES
The most dominant mass media is the TV. The image is an important factor inside TV because a bad use of this can cause a lot of consequences. When the journalists inform about tragedies, many times broadcast very violent images. According to Potter (1999), this can provoke immediate effects or long-term effects:
1. DISINHIBITION: it is a behavioural effect (Potter, 1999). This effect is related with justification of violence. Potter et al. (1999, p.90) notes that:
Retaliatory motives, such as revenge, appear to be the strongest in leading to disinhibition. The causal path may go from motives to justification to disinhibition. That is, when a motive legitimates the violence, that violence is regarded as justified, and viewers are more likely to exhibit a disinhibition effect.
One of the most important features of the news is the objectivity. It’s not the same to explain news from the point of view of society than from the perpetrator.
The National Television Study, (in Potter, 1999) say that: “Much of the violence is justified”. It is because sometimes the violent news is broadcasted from the point of view of the perpetrator. Potter and Ware, 1987 (in Potter, 1999) affirm that: “The amount of justification changes depending on the perspective from which it is judged. Potter and Ware (1987) found that 93% of violent instances were justified from the perspective of the perpetrator, not by society”. Therefore, the point of view can determine the opinion of people. When the tragedies are justified, provoke to people a feeling of disinhibition because they can get to understand the perpetrator attitude.
2. FEAR: it is an emotional effect (Potter, 1999). The violent images can alter the life behaviour of people because this can create fear. The fear can cause a mental disorder and it can have serious consequences. The people live scared, thinking that they could be the next victims.
3. DESENSITIZATION: every day appears much more violence in the news. As a consequence, people get into the habit to see violent images. This habit provokes a lack of sensibility. People lose sensibility towards violent images.
1. AGGRESSIVENESS: it is a behavioural effect (Potter, 1999).
Potter et al. (1999, p.42) notes that: “Exposure to violent portrayals in the media increases subsequent viewer aggression”. The violence, doesn’t affect of the same way to all people. It depends on the persons, family, background social, etc. There are people who are more sensitive towards violence and they can imitate it. The TV is a powerful mass media and it not only entertain also teaches us. The violent images of the TV can transmit aggressiveness to the people; even people can learn to behave aggressively (Potter, 1999).
THE PRIMARY EFFECTS
*According to Liebert an Schwartzberg, 1977 (in Potter, 1999) the direct imitation and disinhibition are primary effects.
*According to The National Television Violence Study, 1997-1998 (in Potter, 1999) learning, desentization and fear also are primary effects.
SITUATION IN ENGLAND AND OTHER COUNTRIES
Many studies show that in the whole world there is a high index of violence in the television, and it is exposed of an antisocial manner (Potter, 1999).
Potter et al. (1999, p.56) notes that: “The United States leads the world in the prevalence of violence on television. Violence is less prevalent on TV in countries other than the United States”.
William, 1982 (in Potter, 1999) found: “18.5 acts of aggression per hour in North American Television”. Furthermore the aggressive scenes were longer (Potter, 1999).
Great Britain has a lot of violence in the news. According to Broadcasting Standards Council, 1993 (in Potter, 1999) “The highest rate was found on national news (7,5 scenes per hour)”.
According to Kapoor, 1994 (in Potter, 1999) Korea has very few
violence compare to other countries since in general it has less than 8%.
By other hand, according to Mustonen and Pulkkinen, 1993 (in Potter, 1999) Finland has the rate highest of violence in cartoons. It is because the majority of imported programs come of North America (Potter, 1999). Mustonen and Pulkkinen, 1993 (in Potter, 1999) say that: “They attributed much of the aggression to importation from other countries”
According to Goonasekera & Lock, 1990 (in Potter, 1999) in Asia, although there is less violence in the TV, it is much more blood and gloried. In Japan, the rate of violence is very similar to the American ones (Potter, 1999). Iwao, de Sola Pool, & Hagiwara, 1981b (in Potter, 1982) think that: “In Japan, 2.3 min/hr were violent, compared with 2.4 in the United States”. In this country there are much more verbal violence than physical violence. Normally, the physical scenes of violence show persons suffering. Japan, has the highest rate of violence in cartoons: 14.3 scenes per hour (Potter, 1999).
According to C.A.C (Audiovisual Council of Catalunya) www.audisualcat.net , in a Barcelona (Spain) local TV called BTV, the dominant topic inside news are the aggressions. This graph above shows the time for each new shown on TV.
According to Lorry, 1997 (in Potter, 1999) a recent poll about the violence on TV shows that 70% of public opinion thinks that occasionally the violence on TV provokes people an aggressive behaviour.
A U.S. News & World Report (in Potter, 1999) poll found that: “92% of Americans think that the television contributes to violence in U.S”.
Bybee, Robinson, & Turow, 1982 (in Potter, 1999) notes that: “According to a poll of 500 college-level teachers and communication scholars, 66% believed that exposure to television increases aggressive behaviour”.
According to CAC (Audiovisual Council of Catalunya) www.audisualcat.net, the professionals of the information have not a lot of references, which force them to adopt a critic attitude of their activity. Therefore the journalist’s responsibility is larger because they are who decide to broadcast the news as a show.
The 11th and 12th of December, 2000 I went to a conference about informative treatment of personal tragedies that took place inside C.A.C (Audiovisual Council of Catalunya). In this conference, many important people talked about the journalist’s responsibility, right to inform, right to intimacy, repercussion, effects, consequences, etc. During two days they talked about a personal tragedy: 28 children died as a consequence of an accident between a truck and a bus in Soria (Spain).
The 30th of March 2002 two trains crash face to face in Torredembarra (Spain). When that news was reported, every channel offered different information about the catastrophe. For example: while ones reported that there were 3 dead and 60 injured, others stated that there weren’t any dead and the injured were just 51. The journalists must assume the difficulty of their work. They have so much responsibility that they can’t commit this kind of mistakes because the consequences can be huge.
According to the law, the intimacy is a right. Although the journalists and the Audiovisual Companies know it, most of them don’t respect it. The main problem is that although the affected people sue them, the problem doesn’t disappear.
The Audiovisual Companies think: if the affected people sue us, we would lose 70 millions. Ok! We will get 90 millions if we broadcast the violent images, therefore it’s better for us!
Then my question is: what should a mother do if she sees how journalists record her dead son and she knows that although she can sue them, they will continue getting money thanks to it?
Potter, W. J. (1999) On Media Violence. United States: Sage Publications, Inc.
9TH OF DECEMBER