Sandra’s Week 7 Blog

I personally found a few articles that I thought were more disturbing than anything. I would not go as far as saying they were offensive, but they still left me questioning what would make someone go in that specific direction in order to get their story across. I say they were more disturbing due to the way that the articles were structured, and the way they were told, because in a lot of cases there are many different angles to a story, so why would someone choose to go the most negative or most controversial way?

One story that stood out to me more than others was an article from BBC news titled “Payton Summons: Brain dead girl denied further life support.” The first thing you notice when you are sifting through a newspaper or scrolling through the news online is typically the headline. The image used to depict the story is also a contributing factor when it comes to catching potential readers eyes as well. And in the case of this story, that is what makes me almost question the morals of whoever wrote this article, as well as the people who decided to post this story on the internet for anyone and everyone to see.

When I first scrolled through the website that I found this story on, I was shocked to see a picture, clear as day, of a little girl who couldn’t be more than 6 years old. Then I read the headline, and I was even more shocked at the fact that this child’s name was printed right next to the image. At this point I just thought that maybe im getting too ahead of myself; Who am I to assume that the name in the headline just HAD to be the little girl in this picture. Or maybe I just hoped that it wasn’t. Then I started reading the article. 

The thing that almost upset me more than the fact that a 6 year old child’s photograph AND name had been posted for the whole world to see, is the way that they decided to structure this story. They couldn’t have just written it in normal story format, right? Nope. This story was written in a way that it almost looks like an interview, with almost every paragraph starting with a question; What will her parents do?, How did Payton fall ill? Etc. I could possibly go on and on about why I think that this upset me more than the other clearly disturbing factors, but I won’t. What I will say is that if I was the family of this poor child, I would not be too happy at the fact that my child’s situation is being portrayed as some kind of questionnaire.

There is a difference between telling a story in a way that is necessary to get a point across and telling a story in a way that is just completely unnecessary. And when it comes to Payton Summons, I feel like her story deserves to be told in a way much different than it was.

Hofstetter, Tiffany. “Payton Summons: Brain Dead Girl Denied Further Life Support.” BBC News, BBC, 11 Oct. 2018, http://www.bbc.com/news/world-us-canada-45828020.

Published by

mediaethicsuc2018

Adjunct Professor of Media Ethics in Contemporary Society at Utica College

One thought on “Sandra’s Week 7 Blog”

  1. Actually the subheadings, or questions, is just a stylistic thing and I don’t really think that’s what’s harmful. It would have been potentially harmful and they treated this as a Q&A style story which I hate even if it’s a fluff piece. What I think is harmful is yes, they interviewed the family’s lawyer, OK, probably because the actual family refused to talk. But then at the end of the report, they quote from another news organization. To me that’s extremely lazy and it could be potentially harmful if the BBC was wrong or something was incorrect about this report. It’s a very delicate subject matter, especially involving a child, and I agree it’s definitely harming if they didn’t get the family’s consent to name the child.

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