It should come to no surprise to anyone in this class that the world can often be an unpleasant place. If everything was perfect, there would be no need for journalists. But everyday people are being killed, robbed, tortured, raped, and drugged, and gruesome stories often need to be told so the public can do something about them. Many journalists have the interesting yet emotionally exhausting job of presenting these tragedies to the public. And as we learned in this week’s reading, these jobs can bring a journalist a lot of stress.
When I shadowed Ashley Lutnern at the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, she talked about emotional stress briefly. She covers crime, and she had many different stories of horrific murders she or someone else on staff had to report on. She also told me that there is an alarming amount of stories on the sexual abuse of minors that they do not report on to keep the victim’s privacy. It was kind of amazing to see how calmly she spoke on these things she had encountered on the job. It just goes to show that traumatic experiences are not just for journalists oversees covering brutal wars and genocide. Traumatic events that require media coverage happen right here in Midwestern America.
Although journalists report on these traumatic events to inform the public, many times these awful stories become entertainment. Yes, it is important to recognize that people want to hear about the disturbing and ugly things that happen out there. In the summer of 2011 I was a clerk. It seemed like every day that summer somebody would walk in and start talking to me about Casey Anthony, a woman who was tried for killing her baby. Although that story lost its newsworthiness fast, it kept the public’s fascination for a long time.