Sorry if my usual wry cynicism has been replaced by empathy. But this is exactly the point that I was trying to make yesterday. It's because of the strong emotional impact that these stories have that we - and by we, I mean the Herald, oddly enough - have to be particularly careful with how they are reported. There are many issues here; one is that, to me, 'level of emotional engagement' seems to be the appropriate criterion for an article appearing in Woman's Day, not a 'serious' newspaper. Another is that when everyone, including the people at the Herald, know that the media coverage of crime strongly, and often misleadingly, influences public opinion (and then leads to rubbish like the 'three strikes' law, not to mention people being afraid to leave their homes), crime reporting ought to be held to particularly high standards.
That's what I said yesterday - or, at least, that's what I meant. A couple of anonymous people had issues in the comments with what I said. One person, apparently mistaking EtH for a site that talks about every article the Herald runs, complained that if all my complaints were taken into account the Herald would come out as a wad of blank paper every day. (Some may claim that would be an improvement, har har.) I read over my article again and struggled to find the part where I argued that violent crime ought not to be reported - I merely claimed that it should be reported in a more considered and less sensationalised way. As to his/her question about what I want in a newspaper:
- coverage of local politics and issues, which I generally feel the Herald does reasonably well, which is why I rarely write about it (sorry).
- some critical analysis and investigation of national politics, which the Herald is generally terrible at.
- coverage of world news more robust than stealing articles from the Daily Telegraph on Madonna adopting a baby.
- a cryptic crossword.
This seems to be a rather creative interpretation of what I said. My point, I thought, was clear - I was talking about the link between people reading sensationalised reports of violent crime and believing in a (false) rise in murder rates - you never hear the Herald say that you're very unlikely to be murdered. Anonymous's claim that I am basically arguing that "all stories [should] be given prominence based on 'how often they happen'" seems like a fairly radical straw man argument to me - I don't know what else anyone thinks, but feel free to throw in your two cents. Let me re-iterate: I believe that violent crime ought to be reported differently, not 'not at all', precisely because of the powerful impact the reporting has on people - even grumpy old me.