by Jen Faulkner
This week I was angered by an article, partly entitled, ‘I want to drown my baby.’ Frustratingly it was an interesting and informative article about post-natal depression, and as to why more women don’t speak up and ask for help. And ironically one of the reasons they potentially don’t shout out loud for assistance is because they are afraid that people will assume they want to harm themselves or their child, exactly what the headline quoted. And so, this week’s letter was an easy one to write….
This week, as well as on countless other occasions, you’ve taken a vitally important topic and completely devalued it by insisting on attaching it to sensationalist and unnecessarily brutal headlines.
Recently it was The Telegraph who potentially caused an entire generation of post-natally depressed women to burrow themselves even further away from support and reaching out with an atrocious headline that completely missed the mark.
As the media you have to have some level of responsibility – surely journalism is about more than rejoicing as to the number of people who read your article, enticed by such scaremongering headlines? If you truly want to inform and do the subject of your article justice, something I will address later, then you need to behave in a respectful manner and not demean the importance of the article by brandishing it with a sensationalist headline.
And as to the content – all too frequently events are recorded and re-told from one side only. A potentially prejudiced and unfair side depending on what you, The Media, want people to get from an article. I know people who work for you have to be careful of being slanderous or libellous in their writing, but there are sneaky ways that many who work for you use to get around this. Mis-quoting. Missing important quotes out. Disguising the truth.
There are two sides to every story, at least. There are countless versions of events seen through individual eyes. There are unique experiences of illnesses and that cannot be swept under a blanket, over-dramatic headline or stigmatised from a one sided approach.
You do realise that some people actually believe what they read in the papers and in magazines? And that they often form opinions – don’t get me started – using your articles as evidence for arguing their case? It’s not right that you have the power to make people believe that all mentally ill people are violent, or that all post-natally depressed mums want to harm their babies, or telling us that everything we eat could cause cancer.
I appreciate that you have an important job to do. You need to impart information to the masses. I get that. I’m just urging you to do it a bit more sensitively. Allow us to see the integrity of an article by providing it with an accurate headline. One that makes us want to click on it because we are intrigued not angered or shocked.
Has anything angered you this week and made you want to write a letter? If so write to me at firstname.lastname@example.org