Compassion in media coverage


Interaction among journalists and their audiences is purely through written material, pictures or video broadcasts. And what leads to loyal viewers, and/or readers, is a basic human level of emotion. Meaning, the way a story is pieced together is just as important as the story itself.

But how do television journalists achieve this aspect of their reporting? Al Tompkins in “Aim for the Heart emphasizes the need of an artistic “eye” in every video or picture to access human emotions.

“The best television stories get up close to help viewers feel, taste, smell and see the story. And they get wide to give viewers context and perspective.”

In disasters, journalists must provide crucial information to an eager audience that may be in the thick of it. However, if it is a story of destruction, September 11th, 2001 for example, the news cannot seem insensitive.

According to Xigen Li in the article “Stages of Crisis and Media Frames and Functions: U.S. Television Coverage of the 9/11 Incident During the First 24 Hours,” the media acts as a “social utility function.” This relates to the emotional technique of media coverage, where journalists “provide companionship and emotional support” for those who do not have physical comfort nearby.

Basic camera angles and tone of a reporter all work together to package a story in a way that is both informative, but sympathetic to those affected and concerned. For that reason, compassion in news stories is needed to reach out to viewers as a comforting hand to those who need it.



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