When a decision is made to leverage emotions, the stage is set for heated and emotional discussions.
A tragedy happens, and it is the duty of those who inform the public to report it. Yet there are at least two level of discretion.
The first one regards the elements that complete the information. Would a written report be enough? Should it include a picture? Should it include graphic imagery? As a thumbnail, perhaps? An audio file capturing the very tragic moments? A video? A dispairing interview?
The second one regards the context we provide for the information. Was that a tragic isolated event? Was that part of broader topic? Are there policies in place that led to this? Are the ties clear? Is there people to blame? Are there other events that are related? Did this ever happen before?
There’s a race to the bottom in news organisations, one that is driven by the fear of being left behind. And so, if my competitors are doing something that drives traffic, so should I. The problem with this is that it makes the (almost) totality of the public discourse trivial, instinctual, emotional. It does so news after news, in a continuous cycle of resentment, repulsion and frustration. For the most part, it leaves all of us at a superficial level.
That’s not how change is informed.