Monday, June 23, 2008

Feel the Fear, it sells

Tonight's TV news reported a rape in Seattle's Dr. Jose Rizal Park, near Beacon Hill.

News reporting is on a tight timeline. Details deemed insignificant don't make it in. This report included two details that gain significance because they were included.

First, there are trees in the park (duh!!!). Perpetrators can hide behind trees. And I was left dangling with possible implications. Am I supposed to want to chop down all the trees, or avoid greenery?

Second, adjacent to Rizal Park is "the jungle," a greenbelt that some of Seattle's homeless call home. This news report pointed out both the park's proximity to "the jungle" and it's connection to homeless people. Is the implication that the assailant was likely a homeless man? The report gives no real reason why it should be a homeless man; this area is also home to drug dealing/use and gangs. I'm willing to go out on a limb and assert the report is quite deliberately playing on prejudicial fear.

Details such as these round out a story, giving it the appearance of more substance and veracity. Don't be sucked in by dangling innuendos. Don't buy the fear.

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