The Role of the Media | Power & Influence

It is with us 24 hours, 7 days a week.

There is no way you can hide away from it.

The media monster lurks at every turn; on your TV, your phones, tablets, laptops, magazines, newspapers and posters.

Your family, friends, colleagues and even people you haven’t even met before, want to discuss the latest goings on in the world with you, quoting from different publications.

In light of a recent article that hit the Daily Mail Online this week, I wanted to express my own views on how the media impacts us all, whether we are conscious of it or not. My own experiences of its positives and negatives have been highlighted (I will save these for a later blog post) and there is no way that I can keep them away from others, because there are some much needed changes that need to be addressed.

When I came across this ‘article’ (I put in commas because I don’t believe it could be classed as an article) written by Liz Jones, a 58 year old woman, who has suffered from anorexia nervosa since she was 11, and still continues to battle this illness. Now my initial thoughts were that this was going be someone’s courageous efforts to raise awareness through the use of the media eye. However, I was deeply disappointed to read on, finding that this was an exploitation of her illness by ‘The Daily Mail’ in order to attract media attention.

There was no professional opinion to provide a reason for Liz’s illogical and disordered thoughts and views on her illness. Now, this in itself is completely irresponsible, as a national publication, you have a duty of care for your readers, and this violates that role. Just think for a moment, someone who is in an extremely self-destructive mindset, starving themselves as a way to control their emotions, comes across this ‘open diary’ and instantly believes that they are justified to continue their life-threatening behaviours. Despite the damage it is doing,  they are now comforted in the knowledge that someone else has stated…

“…sometimes I am glad I have an eating disorder.”

and that

“It’s so much simpler if you just don’t do food.”

Tell me, how is this safe to publish?!

Do not get me wrong, I do congratulate Liz Jones, for speaking out about her long-life battle, expressing the raw reality that so many people go through every single moment, of every day. I truly wish her all the best. But it is not in the best interest of those who are still suffering, to be able to read this eating disordered account of how ‘beneficial’ it is to continue to starve yourself.

I have myself, gone through the national publications to share my own recovery story. But there is on key thing that you can highlight straight away; it is a recovery story.
Yes there are photographs of me when I was extremely emaciated and deep into anorexia, but that was never to push it into anybody’s face that this what you need to look like to have anorexia. It was sharing just how far I have come, mentally and physically. That I can see how disordered my thoughts were and the horrific relationship I had with my body put my life at risk.

But as I was to find out, they basically used my story to grab readers attention through the shock factor, which is exactly what has happened here.

There can be so many positives to the influence the media has on every single one of us. A great example is that Little Mix’s Jade Thirwall has opened up about her struggles with an eating disorder when she was a teenager. This is such an incredible thing for her to do, as she has the platform to do so much good to help support awareness.

But when humanity and compassion is lost, due to targets and viewing numbers, it is prolonging people’s chances of recovery.  It is critical that the media and publicity take more responsibility for the content that they put out there, because it is causing mental illnesses, like anorexia, to manifest and become ever more imbedded into someone’s mind.

I wish that one day Liz Jones will see that recovery from her eating disorder, is far more fulfilling than the existence she has now. It saddens me that there are thousands, if not millions of others like her, that don’t see that the positives out way the negatives of overcoming their illnesses.

Hopefully in the future, the media can act more responsibly and think about the consequences of their actions a little more deeply.

 

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