I get that online news organizations need to make money somehow, but this is just sad. They are ruining peoples’ lives, running names through the dirt over nothing.
There’s been a story recently making the rounds on all the regular celebrity news outlets that describes David Hunt, who’s a 60-year old British Producer, side-hugging a writer on a TV show. The writer felt uncomfortable, reported it to the network and her bosses, and asked that he go through a couple hours of sensitivity training. He did an entire class, which was more than what she asked for. She said she was happy with that, that he shouldn’t lose his job.
On her Twitter she said “I think people have the space to learn and change and I don’t want someone open to that education to be punished.” The network and her bosses, on the other hand, took retaliatory actions against this writer. According to her Twitter, her bosses, two female Showrunners, “destroyed my sense of self and my feeling of value in the workplace.” Because she was so incensed with how the network and her bosses treated her, she quit.
So in reality, what we’re talking about is a workplace dispute between a television show writer, HR, and her two bosses. It’s about the way they handled (or mishandled) her complaint. But is that what we see in the news? Nope. Instead, a man who side-hugged someone and then voluntarily took an entire sensitivity training course more than what was requested gets painted in negative terms across the Internet, so that whenever you search for his name, now this is what comes up. He’s being punished because he happens to be married to a famous actress. If this guy was your son or father, would you want him to be treated this way?
It seems like we’re going through a resurgence of Yellow Journalism. If you’re unfamiliar, Yellow Journalism started in the 1800’s when newspapers realized that the more provocative a headline was, the more likely people passing by on the street would buy the paper. So headlines and articles got progressively more wild, insulting, and salacious. Now that we’re in the era of total Internet “news,” we’re right back to the era of mostly Yellow Journalism. They’re trying to get clicks so they can charge more for ads. So they just write whatever they can to get you to click on the title. That’s all they care about, because they don’t make money off of you actually reading the story and realizing the title was bait! The actual story has nothing to do with the title!
The press in the United States enjoys a wide berth when it comes to freedom of speech. I support that. We need to be free to put a spotlight onto those in power, to investigate, to express opinions that may not be necessarily popular in the current day. That contributes to making America the unique country it is. But news outlets should also consider the cost to individuals when they blow up a tiny moment that isn’t an actual news story and turn it into some kind of a sensational headline in order to get more clicks and sell more ads. That makes society worse for all of us.