Modern day news coverage crosses many ethical, social and philosophical barriers; and often, the gulf between what is actual news and what is broadcast is immeasurably wide.
For example, in 2009, controversial figure Jade Goody succumbed to cancer, dying in her home on mothers day.
Jade’s case had not been a particularly private one; the information that she had cancer was broadcast to her on an international version of popular reality show Big Brother, and ever since, her journey fighting the disease was publicised at every corner. One could easily look to her publicisit, Max Clifford to apportion part of the blame, or even to Jade for wanting one last “shine” in the spotlight.
However, it is important to remember that in a media driven society, products are consumed on a supply and demand basis. The demand for news and information on Jade’s journey progressively increased, from being a mid-paper story to being on the front of every tabloid on an almost daily basis.
In the run up to her death, Jade was met with international recognition, and was applauded for her work in raising cervical cancer awareness. This meant that rather than being given the privacy she arguably deserved, Jade, a reality show contestant, was given huge sums of money in order to tell “her story”. Sensing a final pay-day, this meant that her family, her friends and relatives were denied any privacy in coping with the disease. While one may argue that his was the fault of the subjects themselves, one must look instead to a public incensed by her controversial nature, and ask exactly why the rather morbid information surrounding her death was quite as demanded.
Many cancer patients, and families affected by the disease were angry at this coverage; there seemed little to separate her from more notable sufferers, other than brief stints on reality tv where she managed to offend a large proportion of the British public. However, despite all of this, the coverage continued.
On the morning of her death, there were numerous cameras from rolling TV stations such as Sky News and BBC News 24, permanently stationed , focused on the Goody family home. This meant that any visitors or grievers that did visit were bombarded with media interest, and given absolutely no time to mourn in privacy.
This rather macabre coverage is morally reprehensible in a variety of ways. Firstly, on a day of national significance such as mothers day, one would argue it was unnecessary to depress the nation with blanket coverage of a famous mother’s death. One might also state that by focusing on the human, emotional aspect of the story; the Goody children, the story was encroaching into possibly tasteless grounds, turning children into national victims for simply having a famous mother.
I feel that in this example, the British media has acted in an unethical manner. By continually bombarding the public with information because they showed an interest is no reason to cause distress to families and add further hurt to emotionally traumatised children. It is for these reasons that while I have sympathies for Jade, I have no sympathy for the British media’s continued fall into obscurity with the rise of newer information platforms such as the internet, where such examples can be avoided through free choice.