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Tuesday, September 29, 2020

Columns

Violent crime is down, but the news say otherwise


According to the FBI, violent crime is on the rise when compared to last year, but still lower than it was five, or even ten, years ago.

If you turned on the TV right now, though, especially to a national news agency, you would probably feel like violent crime and social disparity were on the rise.

There is a saying in the media, “If it bleeds, it leads.” What it means is that stories involving conflict and violence are more likely to catch the attention of readers and drive up viewership.

As a result of that mantra, news outlets are at increased odds of reporting violent occurrences that may not be entirely relevant to the community they are supposed to serve.

Even if crime is on the decline, the media has a knack for portraying otherwise to increase ratings or readership. This is irresponsible fear mongering and has adverse effects on people’s perception of the world.

This phenomenon is compounded when vast amounts of information diffuse throughout the world at a near-instantaneous rate. Bad news used to take days, weeks and even months to travel. Now with mediums such as the internet, information spreads with one click.

News agencies will probably never alter their business model of treating news as a commodity that fights for people’s attention.

We have to alter the way that we read news. We shouldn’t have to be doing this, but it is the only way to form opinions on current events without falling victims to a particular news network’s agenda.

There are several ways to combat this news culture that perpetuates a state of constant division and fear. The first is to constantly read about the same subject across different news outlets and media. Another is to follow up on the internet for more information and second opinions.

We need a culture where we celebrate good people and good deeds instead of infatuating violence, drama and controversy on TV.

Assistant opinion editor Thom Dwyer is a broadcast journalism sophomore and can be reached at [email protected]

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