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What happened to dignity and respect ?

Posted by Big John on June 14, 2007

In a TV news report the other evening a grieving mother was interviewed shortly after the death of her baby in a house fire. It was impossible to hear her reponse to the ‘how do you feel’ type questions as the poor woman was completely distraught with grief.

After a few minutes of showing this woman’s suffering, the view switched to a shot of her burned out house and the camera lingered on the flowers and cuddly toys which had been left outside on the fence.

This kind of reporting is now quite common in this country as are the displays of what has become known as ‘recreational grief’ or ‘grief-lite’. This has been taken to the extreme in the tragic case of Madeleine McCann, although in this instance her parents have encouraged all the media attention, in the belief that it will help in the search for their daughter. Let us hope that they are right.

I suppose that I am old fashioned when it comes to personal tragedy and grieving. I’m not exactly the ‘stiff upper lip’ type, but I do believe that such matters are private and should be handled with dignity and respect.

I have to wonder why the TV news channels think that we want to see weeping, incoherent people when they are at their most vulnerable; and why some people now feel the need to build a ‘shrine’ at the scene of the death of someone, who is probably  a complete stranger ?

The ‘think tank’ Civitas published a report under the title ‘Conspicuous Compassion’, which argued that what seem to be public signs of caring are part of a culture of ostentatious caring which is about feeling good, not doing good; of projecting one’s ego and thereby showing others what a deeply caring individual you are.

The intrusive TV coverage of a family’s mourning is not something that I ever want to see, but then neither would I wish to see again, a young mother handing her toddler a bunch of  flowers and pushing him towards the cameraman as he focuses on all those  …

…   teddy bears and balloons hanging from that fence.   


4 Responses to “What happened to dignity and respect ?”

  1. Oscarandre said

    Years ago I watched with horror as a newsman asked the survivor of shipping accident, just stepping off the rescue boat and wrapped in a blanket, “How did it feel to watch your two friends drown?”

  2. Ginnie said

    The insensitivity of the news media is mind boggling. They have trained the audience to expect the worst.

  3. You are not old fashioned, this kind of journalism is repugnant for any well-born person.

    In the case of the McCanns I think their strategy is right, as they are taking profit of the media to handle them (said in the good sense)for their help and relief. But their greatest test is since now on, that Madeleine will start to be forgotten.

  4. Terri said

    Intrusive is the operative word here. And I SO agree….we have a case here in the States right now…9 month pregnant 26 yr. old found murdered by her boyfriend in Canton, Ohio. They searched for her all week and found her yesterday. They interviewed her mother and it was terrible….but then….I have to wonder…WHY do they allow themselved to BE interviewed? I’m afraid if that were me, the media would have some very damaged equipment on their hands.

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