20 April 2013

Looking for "Helpers"

             As with many tragedies, the explosions that occurred Monday at the Boston Marathon left people in a state of shock. Innocent people were targeted during what should have been a time of joy and achievement, and the reason behind the explosions remains unknown.

            Easy access to internet and citizen journalists helped the news spread quickly, including graphic videos and photos of victims. The news often emphasizes misfortune during times like these because shock grabs people’s attention.

You May Feel Stress from News on Television 
Do you ever just get an uneasy feeling after watching bad news on television for a while? According to Medical News Today, a study found that some people can be significantly affected by traumatic news they didn’t actually experience but only watched on television, and may even display characteristics of Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD). There is a high correlation between the amount of television someone watches about a particular event and the likelihood that they will be affected by it.

 While death and devastation should certainly not be downplayed or ignored, it is important to focus on the positive that emerges during tragedies as well.

Social Media’s Influence on News
            Social media has been helping people accomplish that. Twitter hashtags such #BostonHelp and #BostonStrong have been trending to show support for those affected, and a quote by Fred Rogers (you probably know him from Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood) has been spreading around Facebook and Twitter:

“When I was a boy and I would see scary things in the news, my mother would say to me ‘Look for the helpers. You will always find people who are helping.’”
–Fred Rogers

Focusing on the helpers during unhappy times can prevent us from dwelling only on the negative and feeling helpless. We need to remember that while there are people who do terrible things, there are also many more people who have come together to encourage and help those in need.

Stay Informed and Supportive without Fixating on a Sad Event
            Because the study found a positive correlation between the amount of television viewed about an event and the likelihood of a person being significantly affected, a suggestion might be to read a summary of what took place and then move on rather than continuing to read/watch every single update that is given. This way you are staying informed of current events but you are trying not to let them consume you.

            Another suggestion is to search for the positive stories in the news and read those as well. While upsetting stories do come up frequently, there are also many inspiring stories out there. The positive stories you read could be about anything from good deeds to accomplishments, as long as you find them pleasant. This article about acts of kindness during the Boston Marathon explosions is an excellent example of looking for helpers.

            I think that stories of people who act sincerely out of the goodness of their heart can leave us with a sense of hope and happiness. They remind us that no matter how much negativity we encounter in the world there will always be more people with good intentions.

           Do you think that there are too many traumatic news stories compared to uplifting ones, or are they necessary? Is there any way to stay informed of current events without being affected by them?

  •  http://shine.yahoo.com/healthy-living/acts-of-kindness-in-the-wake-of-the-boston-marathon-bombings-155030075.html 
  •  http://www.medicalnewstoday.com/releases/144839.php


  1. There are so many terrible things going on right now, and it is the job of the media to report the stories and inform the nation of what is going on. While most of it is horrible, we are also presented with stories like those helping with the Boston victims. It shows how strong are country is in hard times.

    It is hard not to be affected by the tragic stories, but it can be encouraging to us to be the light and to help those in need. It is also encouraging to be thankful for what we have and not take anyone or anything for granted.

    I know it is a common belief that the media has a negative affect on society, which can be true at times, but it is also vital in being informed of things happening in our country, good or bad.

  2. Kaitlin, I completely agree with you. It is the media's job to report the news no matter how horrific it is. While the media can "sugar coat" things going on in the world, it is important that they give enough information that informs the public.

    I know many people who choose not to watch the news because they say it is depressing. News can be very depressing but you have to decide if you want to be informed or choose to ignore.

    I am more concerned with the accuracy that the news media portrays. Throughout the Boston Marathon coverage, there was a lot of speculation about what was true. It is the media's job to INFORM the public, not be focused on being the first to cover a breaking story.

  3. This really is interesting. I don't think that there are too many traumatic stories compared to the uplifting stories, because I'm pretty sure that they are quite equal. But since uplifting stories are not as 'exciting', we sometimes just overlook them.

    I know that after 9/11, news channels were told to stop showing the footage of the planes actually flying into the towers, because people did start to show characteristics of Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder and it really bothered a number of people. After some time, it just was not in good taste to keep showing that to Americans or, of course, to the families of the victims.

    But I do agree with Sierra! I think the accuracy of the news that they give us is VERY important. I know that sometimes we're learning what the reporters know or think they know, at the same time as them, but they should not report it until they have FACTS. Because we become confused and lose trust in them, and that's not good because they are our main source for information.

    But in the end, we will always be affected by the news. There really is no way around that. If it's good news or bad news, we will feel some way about it.

  4. I think we have all learned from Dr. Martin's Basic Reporting class that "if it bleeds, it leads." While I'm sure most of the public does not want to always hear bad news, it definitely takes precedence over the happy stories.

    I believe more people would very upset if certain tragedies aren't cover. However, I do think the media should not dwell on these events. After a week of hearing about Sandy Hook and the Boston Marathon, I became a little somber myself.

    In the end, we cannot control what the media shows the public, but I think we wouldn't have so many terrible events if the media reported happier "feel good" stories!