Is Emotion News?

One thing we see in the media after any catastrophic event is interviews with people not only asking them the facts about what they saw but how they feel.  This is no more obvious and difficult when it comes to asking people about victims of an event such as a bombing.

The reaction to the bombing in Manchester last Monday, as poignant and sensitive and difficult as it was, strikes me as being remarkably standard.  That’s not to say that it’s wrong, but the statements, the coming together of communities… Again, I’m not saying that this is easy or no less difficult, admirable or amazing of a reaction, but they are reactions to these occurrences that we see whenever they occur.  In itself, this can give us faith in humanity.

We also see the reactions of emergency services and, while I’m no expert, one would assume that these are planned and practised.  In Manchester, a centre was set-up at the Etihad Stadium to help people.  I doubt that this would have been impromptu, but rather the result of careful and deliberate planning.  No less brilliant, but well prepared just incase.

All these reactions happen almost immediately.  Andy Burnham was out in front of the press at 8am.  I should imagine that he would have been in meetings for the most of night, finding out facts, preparing statements.  I wonder whether he was given the time to get angry, to get upset and any other of those perfectly human reactions that we don’t always see when a plan kicks in.

The people who provide the emotional reaction are the victims and, more often than not, this would be through the media.  The media paint a picture of devastation that we would expect and, to those of on the outside (so to speak), it can make things seem more real.

In such cases, though, do the media owe a duty of care to those people they are speaking to?

Drawing from my own experience of counselling and talking about issues, talking and sharing feelings can be a cathartic experience, but it’s seldom that the benefit is reached in one sitting.  There are follow up sessions where discussion happens having had time to think, where the needs of the person doing the talking changes as they pass through different stages.  It’s rare to see this development and follow up in the press.

The other thing, and maybe more controversially, is whether the reporting of emotion is actually newsworthy.  I don’t mean that it’s not deserving of publicity if requested, but is it actually news?  We know that people’s lives have been devastated and thoughts instantly go out to those affected because we know that.  But what we want to know and what we need the media to provide in the aftermath is the facts and the practicalities.

It’s why the powers that be plan and prepare for these horrible events.  They do what is needed and that’s what makes them amazing.

I travel
All around the city
Go in and out of
Locomotives
All alone

There’s no one here
And people everywhere

Crying ’cause I need you
Crying I can feel you
Crying ’cause I need you
Crying ’cause I care

It’s a hot day
And I’m dressed lightly
I move carefully
Through the crowd

Here everyone
Is so vulnerable
And I’m aswell

There’s no one here
And people everywhere

Crying ’cause I need you
Crying I can feel you
Crying ’cause I need you
Crying ’cause I care

Only if a ship would sail in
Or just somebody came
And knocked at my door
Or just (or just) something

Crying ’cause I need you
Crying I can feel you
Crying ’cause I need you
Crying ’cause I care

Crying by Björk

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