By Charlotte Davis
There’s no denying that the media have a bad reputation. They often promote unrealistic ideals and bad reporting can lead to a number of legal matters, with the Leveson Inquiry being one of the most prominent cases in the past few years. However, the media has power over its readers and it needs to be used for good purposes.
NUS and Amnesty International joined forces in late August to create an event for journalist-hopefuls, constructing workshops and press conferences with the very best in the industry. Author and The Guardian columnist, Owen Jones, gave his views on the degrading nature of the media and his inspirational message has stuck with me ever since the event.
The idea of the media dehumanising people is subject that is not spoken about enough. Owen Jones mentioned ‘there are very few journalists that want to challenge this’.
In relation to the recent coverage of refugees attempting to enter Europe, the media reports these stories but neglects the concept of refugees as real people. Sensationalist rhetoric and the reduction of real people to simple statistics leads to the very big, very real issue of dehumanising ‘migrants’, divorcing public opinion on their plight by distancing them from the issue, in order to slant public opinion to the negative.
In terms of our very own UK migrant crisis, Owen Jones stated the majority of people fleeing to the UK are the equivalent to middle class English speaking people desperate to live somewhere safe, and somewhere they can speak the language. The media continuously dehumanising these people eventually forces the reader to ‘forget’ that they’re dealing with real people with real lives, rather than number on a spreadsheet.
Journalists have this power to shape their reader’s views, and the way they are currently doing so is morally wrong. Using the example of immigration, we need more journalists to go to refugee camps, speak to these real people, and find out their stories.
A few weeks ago an image emerged from a Spanish photographer called Daniel Etter. The photo was of a middle-aged man embracing his family as they reached the Italian border from Turkey. That one photo says so much, the overwhelming emotion in the image and its response shows how simple it is to display refugees as real people with real emotions and real goals.
Immigration is a great example of how the media dehumanises people. But it’s not just about immigrants; it’s about people at the bottom that have to right to have their voice heard, and to be accurately represented when the eyes of the public are on them.
Owen Jones shared his views, saying; “I’d like to see far more scrutiny of the financial sector which runs this country into economic calamity. I’d like to see far more scrutiny of poverty paying bosses who leave millions of workers earning their money day after day in this country.
The media should ignore political bias and speak out for everyone. The media needs journalists who are dedicated to shining a spotlight on those who actually run society rather than those at the bottom.
A journalist’s job is to give everyone – no matter their status – an equal platform to share their voice. It’s about time that this starts happening.