How Bad Our Life Were -Truth and Media Responsibilities

November 2, 2011

Political Theory


How Bad the Life Was?

During my summer vacation, one of my American friends asked me “Are you still alive? I have not seen you on Facebook for 1 month!” To some American around me, it seems that my back to China is so dangerous that I am very likely to be secretly “erased” during my 2 months summer vacation, or at least great injured due to unsafe food and the corrupt government.

In fact, I had been wondering for a while about how bad my life was, as the China I read about there is so dangerous. Is it really that bad and I was just unaware of the darkness? Or the world I know through media is incomplete? For example, I was first astonished by the picture. However, I later found that depite the color, none millitary uniform inChina looks the same as that presented in that picture, thought it was dispayed with an article about China.

Well, all of us build the sterotypes of the world based on what is presented by the society. For example, most of us agree that German people are strict and tough, French people are romantic and Italian people eat pasta. Those stereotypes, just like the lucky cookie (no, people never have lucky cookies in China.), might unfortunately, or fortunately, biased. In fact, our knowledge of the world sometimes is built on faulty impression created by TV program and newspaper, where the identity of a society might be illustrated with a single event.  .

What about in America?

What is the situation in America? Is it really trustworthy?  If anyone could recall the post about Good Samaritan Law couple days ago, the incident discussed in that post is an example of biased report. Newspapers sharply points out there were 18 indifferent passersby before the little was sent to hospital, but little was mentioned about the poor visibility and the rain on that which could prevent passersby from distinguishing the girl. While only a few questioned about background, like why this girl was playing in the road and the source of the video, readers emotionally draw the conclusion of “indifferent Chinese” based on this event.

 While you found numerous reports about how bad life might be in other country, have you ever thought: is the newspaper telling the full version of truth? Is the world really that bad? Is it possible for our life to be even worse?

If you check the reports from New York Times about China, you will find the milk powder could be poisonous and the oil might be unhealthy. However, when you further explore food safety issue, you might find a worse situation in America. How many of you have ever heard the word paylean? For those who don’t, this is a product to increase rate of weight gain, increase carcass leanness and, improve feed efficiency, while also increasing the danger of cancer. Use of paylean is totally legal in America. However, paylean is the forbidden ingredient, which was illegally added to forage, in a great number of reports criticizing food safeties in China.

In fact, according to official data, there were about 3000 people died from unsafe food last year in America, the number of which is equal to amount of victims in 9·11. It’s true that numerous Chinese are suffering from unsafe food. However, never will you see any newspaper to mention problems in America when reporting unsafe food in China.

Fact: Responsibility of Media?

The reports from newspaper are, in most cases. However, the material selected for report is biased. When an event is isolated from its background, or when more negative facts than positive ones are reported, the media would usually increate an illusion of outside world, though they are telling truth. More precisely, the truth we are exposed to nowadays is partial.

In my perspective, for any media in the world, certain tone is followed in whatever they report. For me, the media reveal a great number of negative foreign events not because we concern more about what to improve; rather, the media are trying to build a better image of their own nation.

By disparaging other countries and hiding shortcoming of its own, the meida are helping the authority to create an illusion of the world. In this progress, people define themselves with a better national identity, or more precisely the nationality. Undeniably, a better national identity leads to better cohesion within the country, while presenting a negative outside world transfers the public focus to other countries so that the domestic tension could be released.

So what do you think? Are the media still trustworthy? Is their main responsibility to present a complete world or to reveal problems requiring solution? Do you still think media in America is still as free as you thought? Or to say, are they guided by the government? Or do they choose to report a negative world themselves? To develop further, do we really know how bad our life is?

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