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Ethical Responsibilities Of The Media Essay

1526 words - 7 pages

The role of the media is to formally update the people about what is happening in the world around them. This means that it should give the audience an objective view of what is occurring without violating any human rights or offending viewers. Since there are no certain limitations put on broadcasting violent material, some Arab media channels like Al-Jazeera started excelling in giving the viewer a complete picture about what is occurring in warring nations. From broadcasting the casualties on the battlefield to airing hostage torture videos, Al-Jazeera and other news channels are airing more graphic footage, and this has many negative effects on the viewing public. Terrorists make use of ...view middle of the document...

At least on the internet viewers have the choice of whether or not watch beheading videos by downloading them, but now the media is depriving the audience of that choice by airing brutal murder videos on television. Although some viewers may not wish to watch such gruesome footage, it is still hard to ignore it when it is being displayed before their eyes. The accessibility to the hostage torture films may encourage terrorists to use the media in their favor, by capturing and killing more hostages in order to film the executions, and strike fear into the viewers' hearts. A good example of the terrorists exploiting the media would be the hostage situation in Beslan, where the Chechens broke into a school there and took one thousand and two hundred people as hostages. These terrorists shot their own videos inside the school and were expecting full coverage from the media which they eventually did get (CBS). Another recent example would be the Ken Bigley case, in which the media helped the terrorists to turn the gruesome footage into real television drama. People may argue that this footage keeps us informed and aware of our enemy's tactics, but what do we learn about our enemies by watching these staged executions? We still cannot know where the hostage is, or how to reach him by watching a masked man torturing an innocent person in an unknown location. Therefore, these hostage films have very little news value because they do not update the viewer about anything new, and at the same time airing them gives the terrorists the publicity they crave.
While these beheading or torture videos help the terrorists to spread their message, they also help the media to elevate the ever-growing propaganda war to another level. A propaganda war occurs when the media uses their material to make viewers distinguish between the good side and the wrong or violent one in any conflict. According to Anup Shah, a writer in the Mainstream Media website, any conflict is fought on two grounds: the battlefield and the minds of the people via propaganda (Shah). This is true when we look at the elements that different news agencies use to transmit the information to the viewers. The main two elements are the usage of selective stories and partial facts from an objective news report. For instance, CBS used the hostage footage of Daniel Pearl who was filmed while being tortured then murdered by Islamic terrorists in order to present the Islamic society as the enemies of the Western world, and even worse, CBS anchor Dan Rather said, "CBS News brought you this report because… the video illustrates how far an enemy will go to spread its message of hate for the United States." Then we have Al-Jazeera operating on the other side of this propaganda war by using the same elements in order to present the Western society as the enemies of the Muslim world. The excessive images of Iraqi women being raped, and wounded Iraqi soldiers getting shot by United States Marines on Arab...

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