Media is playing more and more of a role in society everyday. It’s where the public often go to learn about what is going on in the world. Because of this, media coverage on certain issues play an important role in how the public perceives them.
Let’s talk about environmental problems in general and how the media often talks about it. When it comes to issues related to science, what people know about these issues are based on interpretations made by scientists. The public depend on scientists to give them the information that they need in order to make decisions regarding these issues and to gain a better understanding of them. That is why media mostly references scientists in their stories.
In most cases media has to portray information regarding environmental problems in certain ways. For example, according to Federico A. Pasquaré and Paolo Oppizzi media often influence how people perceive these problems “by channeling information in a way that makes some aspects more relevant than others” (Pasquaré 152). Often when the media discusses environmental issues they dramatize their story in order to make it more appealing to the audience. An example of this would be, according to Paquaré and Oppizzi, when media “is often limited to describing the events in terms of damages and loss of property and lives, focusing on human and physical destruction so as to obtain a strong emotional involvement of the audience, without paying attention to issues related to disaster prevention and mitigation” (Pasquaré 154). The reason for this is so the public feels that they have more of an obligation to get involved with solving these problems.
Take Sunday’s earthquake in Italy as an example. You can find many stories about the earthquake basically on all sources of media, but all these stories talk about are the historic buildings that have been destroyed and the thousands of people that have been displaced because of it. What these stories don’t talk about are ways of detecting earthquakes earlier in an attempt to save lives even though none were lost in this particular case due to the fact that there was a smaller earthquake in Italy only a few days before. One article in particular from the New York Times said that determining the course of the seismic activity was nearly impossible. Paolo Messina, the director of the Institute of Environmental Geology and Geoengineering at Italy’s National Research Council, said himself in the article that “we don’t know how much energy has accumulated in this fault over the centuries, so we don’t know how much needs to be discharged” (Povoledo). This may mean that there will be even more earthquakes in Italy in the future which the nation can’t afford given the fact that they have had multiple earthquakes within the past two months alone. Other than that nothing has been said within the media regarding the matter.
A little thing like that affects the story in a huge way and the fact that most of the media leaves details like that out of their stories is highly concerning. The public should be able to hear the entire story not just what the authors are saying in order to provoke a certain reaction from their readers. Showing both sides of the story is the best way for the public to learn about what is going on in the world.