Journalism 133: Prof. Craig: Readability Example
The following material is from a student assignment. Read it and be prepared to discuss what works and what doesn't.
In America there are many things that the media does, and in some ways, does not allow. The word censorship is thrown up in the air so many times that you would think that little league season just began. The rules are unclear and the average American does not know what they can or can not say. Also if they can say something do they have to be held to their opinion, in other words, what are their social responsibilities? Let’s just look at the bigger picture, what are the responsibilities that any of us hold? In specific, what rules does the media have to follow, where are they censored? Who draws the line, and where is this line drawn? Even to this day, documents covering the trial of Timothy McVeigh can be found from the Washington Post. The way that the media would tell the stories in so many words and ways was impressive to say the least. Just to make sure that all of my words would be as true as possible I also reviewed a couple of other news papers just to see how the Washington Post stacked up. With all said and done these are the things that I came up with.
The words of the people that were involved with this case were those of hate, this was projected openly. There were numerous accounts where interviews with each of the jury members was released to the press. But is it fair to say that all people felt that this man was in fact guilty? Many would say no. Perhaps the words that they were relaying to the press was the truth due to the fear that each jury person had. They did not what to be “the last one standing”. No one likes to be the odd one out, this was no acceptation. I am pretty sure that if a family member or someone that they cared about asked them what they thought about the death penalty off camera they may sway their answer. When questioned, the jury all had about the same answer, in some way they all agreed that if they had to vote now if the death penalty was fit for McVeigh the majority of them said yes. When speaking on the record how many people actually tell the truth? The world may never know. Although I am confident in saying that not all people speak the truth when speaking to the press.
Although people may sometimes lie the press, the press more then likely will lie to their audience. There are instances when the whole story is put out there but that is really rare. I am not trying to accuse the media to be this army of false news coverage, all I am saying is that there is censorship every where and that it does not fall short from the media. There were many viewpoints that were shared dealing with the trial itself. There were many view that were put into writing, and I thought this to be wonderful. Not only were the jury members interviewed, but those that were close to the alleged bombers, and those that were affected by the bombings. The stories that were shared, were shared both from the bombers family and the families of those that were killed by this tragic act. In a case like this there is really no way that one can escape being part of the story, the opinions of people is what indeed flues the fire that this bombing inflicted on our nation. The trial drew people in, and the live coverage helped to put a face upon death, but it was the interviews that arose form this trial that took American by storm. To here the tragic stories of some of those that were involved drew us in as people and made us sympathies with those living through this nightmare. The faces of these men were posted everywhere. All with the title guilty. But where they really guilty or did the media too fix all all their attention on the hopes and hearts of the American public?
In a trial of this size and magnitude it is difficult to see where to draw the line, when does a story turn from just a story of facts to actual real life soap opera? The way that I saw it was that as long as the public stayed tuned into the media coverage the news could really cover this story from any angle. People all over the place were making money off the whole tragedy. The bombing would be referred to in music, in class rooms, and in culture. Fear and disbelief had taken the nation by storm and it would be no surprise that the news media do the same. The truth was out there, yet there were some sources that chose to sugar coat fact and make it into some twisted fiction. In this case, it seemed as though the Washington Post kept grounded and covered what needed to be covered in order to hold onto the publics attention. They ran with the story and published every interview that they could get a hold of. There was this article entitled, “Unanimity in a Disparate Group” which spoke about the thoughts of each of the twelve jury members. They each apparently spoke to the paper and told them what they thought about the trial in every aspect, weather or not they thought that McVeigh was innocent, down to weather or not they themselves would be able to deal with looking into the mans eyes and convicting him to death. Needless to say, most of the jury members quoted that they would be able to look at this man and tell him that his life would be now taken away for the lives that he had stolen from others. That is what they said on the record, but is this really how they felt? Who would really know besides themselves?
The fact that I am trying to get across is that most media is as true as the public would like it to be. The media bases its stories, interviews, image, on what they think the viewers would pay for. Money, greed, one of the seven deadly sins, and we as Americans feed on it everyday. The issues that were covered were all there, not necessarily true, but all relevant. The things that did not make it into the paper were those views and stories that the media thought would not necessarily sell. You can not really blame the media for showing us certain things, because this is what we want to see, if it was not then why does the media still live and breath? The information that was put out there was beneficial and in fact loved by our nation. We wept with them, we yelled at them, and we also made them our T.V. family. The Timothy McVeigh trial ranks up there with prime time television. The view points that were shown could have easily been from the snoopy neighbor, all that really matters is weather or not the people ate it up, and they did. The stories, the voices that sounded out during this trial made great T.V. sitcom material.