How The Media Ruin Everything
A reader sends a short, powerful post by Ryan Schuessler, a freelance journalist who is leaving Ferguson because he’s disgusted by the behavior of the media (and by locals who are now performing for the media). Excerpt:
One anecdote that stands out: as the TV cameras were doing their live shots in front of the one burnt-out building in the three-block stretch of “Ground Zero,” around the corner was a community food/goods drive. I heard one resident say: “Where are the cameras? I’m going to go see if I can find some people to film this.”
Last night a frustrated resident confronted me when he saw my camera: “Yall are down here photographing US, but who gets paid?!”
There are now hundreds of journalists from all over the world coming to Ferguson to film what has become a spectacle. I get the sense that many feel this is their career-maker. In the early days of all this, I was warmly greeted and approached by Ferguson residents. They were glad that journalists were there. The past two days, they do not even look at me and blatantly ignore me. I recognize that I am now just another journalist to them, and their frustration with us is clear. In the beginning there was a recognizable need for media presence, but this is the other extreme. They need time to work through this as a community, without the cameras.
We should all be ashamed, and I cannot do it anymore. I am thankful for my gracious editors who understand that.
It’s like the Heisenberg Principle applied to media and society: the observation of a thing changes the thing itself. Read the whole thing; the Anderson Cooper anecdote will make you throw up in your throat.
Here’s the thing: it cannot be denied that media attention can be a positive thing. I’ve seen that up close and personal, and been a part of it myself. But it also cannot be denied that at a certain point, it becomes a harmful thing. What’s the tipping point? How can we tell? Is it even possible to pull back, or do these stories take on a momentum of their own, like a tsunami wave rushing relentlessly toward shore from the deep?