Well, it's Tuesday morning and I should be thinking about the content in which I base my 'news story' that the Falmouth PR students have been set this week.
~I warn you now, I have the flu and in writing this blog it has turned into a rant about writing, enjoy~
Skimming headlines for my adopted paper in the course, Daily Mirror, I find a girl, 19, which is the same age as me, had misunderstood instructions from an art teacher and accidentally encased her hands in Plaster of Paris, which proceeded to cook in a solidifying block of stone up to temperatures of 60 degrees...
What must be running through your head in that situation? Would the first questions comprise of how to get the stone off? Or will the pain out rule and blind all thought? I would suppose different people would think different things, even the onlooking students may have only been thinking of the pain rather than figuring out how to remove the substance.
Panic is a strange thing when studied in human society; when scientists distress animals they find a violent streak in both wild and domesticated animals to escape confines. In continuation of the above example, the students and teacher used hammers to get the plaster off, that itself is quite violent. It seems panic is a branch of fear in which causes most to retaliate physically. Even just reading that story I panicked for the girl, even though it has happened already and she is now free.
If news can expel that kind of emotion from its readers then surely we, as journalists and PR's, must be careful of how we write. I have often been told that we must leave our emotion out of the news, reporting nothing but the fact and let the public respond how they read; but surely we have the responsibility of reassuring the nation after such horror stories? How can reassurance be honest without emotion? The very essence of being human is to be emotional; it is what sets us apart from each other and from everything else, yet we tell ourselves to rid ourselves of such humanistic guides when we communicate so broadly.
I agree, that biased emotion on all news would be a disaster, I understand the importance of neutrality, but even that neutrality exhibits emotion within the public, as stated before. Do we leave our consumers alone to feel angry, or happy, or scared?
Or are they really alone? Are newspapers and even the television (a computer screen?) becoming am insentient part of our daily routines to the point we rely on it as if it were a family member or a friend? That would indeed support Kovach and Rosentiel when they describe journalism as a tool for community.
Perhaps emotion is present in the emptiness between the news and the reader, perhaps even the most neutral of all writings can not but help absorb the energies of both the writer and reader and share it with both. Perhaps we are all linked and understand words as they given and received.
Or maybe I still need to find a cup of coffee this morning. With that, I leave you to go on the hunt for a real news story... wish me luck.