News Porn or “How Ariel Castro got to justify his actions on live TV”

Food porn. House porn. Terms that have come into daily use as a result of over the top TV reality shows that bring us the biggest, the best, the most amazing whatever-it-is or the worst, the most awful, hideous whatever-it-is followed by the incredible makeover of it with the expectation we’ll be titillated, captivated, droolingly mesmerized by it all.

This is how I felt being subjected to Ariel Castro’s uninterrupted justification of some, and denial of other, of his actions as I sat in the director/TD chair in the controlroom of the news outlet for which I freelance. I’d offer you a link to it but then I’d be contributing to what I see as a decline in the industry. It’s gone beyond the pictures of smashed up vehicles or some other spectacular (but not in a good way) video about which I’ve used to say, “Well. That’s revolting, yet oddly fascinating.” We’ve come to have a lineup of train wrecks, shootings, murders, bombings, kidnap and tortures in micro-focus. And to what purpose. To capture the attention of the viewer inundated with media choices by providing them with the most excruciating telling of detail it makes me want to cover my ears and turn my eyes away.

I don’t know who sits, watching unflinchingly, as we present it all. If it’s “most viewers,” then I wonder who those viewers are, and what their lives are like that they stay awash in it all. Ratings continue to fall for television news…perhaps it’s because viewers have the choice to turn their eyes away and figuratively cover their ears by choosing outlets other than television.

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