Sep 30, 2010

Media Watch - me style

Once again a blog challenge has beaten me and I'm giving up on #30daysofme. To be honest, I'd rather not complete it haha ;-) Anyway, the reason I took up the challenge was to get me to write again. I know I've said this a million times before, but writing for work really takes the joy out of writing sometimes. I'm too mentally exhausted to critique anything or feel passionately enough for any issue - which is quite sad, I must admit. *end whinge* But I read this article and it annoyed me a fair bit…well, enough to make me want to write about it.

‘Adopted girl banned from entering Australia because she's classified an immigration threat’

Makes you want to click on it, doesn’t it? Do It! But come back…I have more to say.

All my journalism professors have always talked about the importance of a good headline. I personally SUCK at writing headlines (as you can probably tell from my lack of imaginative blog post titles) *but* that does not mean I don’t know a good headline when I see one.

In brief, a good headline should act as a “hook” that intrigues the reader and makes them want to read the whole story/click on the link. Granted, this headline does that; but, a good headline must also give the reader an idea of what the story is about – it isn’t meant to mislead you. So let’s look at this headline once more shall we?

Adopted girl banned from entering Australia because she's classified an immigration threat
  1. Technically, the girl is not “adopted” (which is why this is a problematic case in the first place)
  2. She hasn’t been “banned” – her tourist visa application was denied.
  3. She *is* an immigration threat because it is very obvious that her parents wanted to use the tourist visa as a back door to get her into the country.
  4. The headline is so sensationalist. It tells you to be outraged, which of course you are, even before you read the article.
I'm not denying that adopting this girl from Rwanda is an amazing thing to do. I'm not saying it's easy for any parent to be told they can't bring their child with them. But that is not what I'm writing about. I'm just saying this article is such a good example of bad journalism because it sensationalises the issue and right from the get go presents a skewed perspective rather than objectively present it.

The purple prose in this article is unbelievable and the exaggerated emotional language manipulates the reader and convinces them there is only one way to look at this issue – the immigration department (DIAC) is being bureaucratic. I’m not for one moment saying the DIAC is perfect – they are far from it. However, it is the DIAC's *job* to stop people from coming in to the country if it seems likely they are going to overstay their visa. So, to be fair, why should this case be treated any differently? Also, by bending the rules on one case, wouldn’t it be setting the precedent for other similar cases in the future? Would we rather have an immigration department that sits back and lets people into the country based purely on emotions and not facts?

In an ideal world journalism would be completely objective but like a very wise professor once said to me, it's hard to be 100% objective when we're all swimming in the same fish bowl. However, honest attempts at an unbiased, unexaggerated point of view are always appreciated. Or else, it's just another example of the yellow journalism that plagues the media these days. 

P.S. Normally I would have posted this on my other blog I suppose but I don’t think I want the headache of managing two blogs anymore so it’s all going to be here from now on.


Anonymous said...

You have echoed my sentiments about how the media sensationalises things. Honestly, I am sick of the terminology they use to describe things. Minor things are a 'disaster' or 'traumatic' or 'horrendous'. And when you have the likes of Karl Stefanovic on his moralising high-horse using such terms, I'm sure there are several people that get sucked in and outraged. Sigh. I could go on and on...

I liked how you pulled apart the article, by the way! You could do Media Watch for sure!!! =)

Legal Alien said...

@ Psych: I agree. The language in the news is nothing but sensational these days. And, thank you I *love* Media watch ;-)!

@Vikram: I was hibernating.. but thank you ;)