Media voyeurism


Insensitive and controversial reporting is not new in India media. Today it escalated to a whole new level when a leading media house dared to ‘monetize the death of an old man who jumped to death from a high rise. Leaving ethics and morals aside, they posted the heartbreaking image the man jumping off the building. In other words, rather than trying to save the man, the journo was keen on clicking images. It’s the height of insensitivity and irresponsibility. Ever suicide is a tragedy, and should not be trivialized and treated as an incident to profit from. Finding the suicide story and the tear-jerking image on the cover of the newspaper was more than upsetting.

The tone of reporting and the mind-numbing image of the man jumping off the building will shake even the hardiest soul. The lexical choice and the image used were deeply upsetting and force every reader to relive the tragedy. The tasteless headline and sadistic reporting completely flouted the mandates of media ethics. Imagine the impact it created on the victim’s family and friends!

Using tragic situations for monetary benefits is sheer sadism and utmost cruelty towards a grieving family. Neither the reporter nor the photographer took a genuine effort to introspect and restrain from printing the vivid account of the incident and heart-rending image. Instead, they published it with little guilt, thus rubbing salt into the wound of the bereaved. Such cringe worthy media practices are what diminishes worthiness and relevance of journalism in today’s society. The potentially distressing image and intricate details raise many ethical and legal questions.

Most journalists are trained to narrate their stories in appealing, unbiased, and most importantly in humanized manner. But inappropriate reporting for momentary fame is unethical, and encourages more such merciless coverage of heart wrenching tragedies. The media are not helping anyone by showing explicit images of a man committing suicide. This insane and distressing method of sensationalizing tragedies and cashing on deaths by showing how it happened must stop. The reporting of suicides has to be handled more sympathetically, while complying with the internationally accepted codes of conduct and best practices.

Inaccurate and insensitive reports about suicide deaths leave the most impact on those who are already vulnerable. They might commit copycat suicides. The risk increases manifolds when the coverage is as extensive as the aforementioned one, or when someone relates himself/herself with in the report. The effect is similar when a news report features minute details on the method and location, or glorify the death in some manner. Hence a genuine level of mindfulness and sensitivity is indispensable while reporting deaths and other tragedies.

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