Stories on minors call for a responsible brand of journalism
by İsmail Selim Eşsiz
Nov 07, 2016 - 12:00 am GMT+3
by İsmail Selim Eşsiz
Nov 07, 2016 12:00 am
Over the years, as media took a more industrialized and mainstream form, it has evolved much from its sole purpose of providing the news and added some new goals.
Today, media delves not just into the politics or everyday events; rather, every now and then, it presents us with reports from the world of entertainment, often disguised as news. Even more so, entire supplements or even whole newspapers are now dedicated to this purpose, much like the ones that cover sports, giving birth to perhaps the most criticized and yet familiar branch of reporters and news type, namely the Paparazzi and gossip columns.
Despite the appearance that entertainment news media and celebrities are constantly at each other's throats, they have always managed to maintain a mutually benefiting relationship. While media maintains a steady pipeline of contents to feed average readers with tales from the upper crust of the society, celebrities in turn, manage to stay relevant, furthering their respective careers, whether as an actor, writer, athlete or a singer.
Nevertheless, we are sometimes faced with instances when their posturing becomes real, in cases caused by eager paparazzi overstepping their bounds or a person of interest who overreacts to a situation that is well within the norms. This ebb and flow between these forces, however, continues as they are fueled by the status quo largely accepted by the elite, media and public.
There is one infrequent factor though. Sometimes, the individual in question can be a minor. After all, child stars are very common today, with some even surpassing the popularity enjoyed by seniors, thanks to some enthusiastic fan following by a younger audience.
A similar case came to light last month with Sabah newspaper. While the specifics of the news article can be considered as both actual or entertainment news, let us consider it the latter, in order to convey our point. The news article was about an up and coming child star in Turkey who had run afoul with the child worker laws which restrict where a minor can work or in this case perform.
What we must remember is that such news are read by children as well, perhaps even much more than by adults, as it pertains to their interests. What we can say in good authority is when both the subject and audience of a news article are children; the media must play a more responsible role and make protecting children from adverse effects a priority, especially if the news in question is dealing with something negative. Even if the news was written with the best intentions at heart, we must remember that it can affect the psyche of a child in either direction, depending on the content and the tone. And of course that does not give us a free pass for the rest of the other sections of a newspaper.
On the contrary, every piece of newspaper we prepare can easily get into the hands of a child thus the whole process demands us to be more responsible with words and photo choices. We must not unwillingly act as a cog in the mistreatment of children.
In cases where children are definitive but passive subjects of a news article, we must turn our heads to the active ones, and in the example we have at hand that would be the managers, record companies or other adults who had influenced the situation. Focusing on them would also shed some light on the unfortunate truth that sometimes children are sacrificed in the common altar of the entertainment industry and media for a fleeting fame.
After all, how many of the child stars from our early years are still around? Only a handful, and if that was not the case, how would they fill the photo galleries of news websites with pictures titled "Celebrities then and now?"