MEDIA (NOT) AS A MIRRORING, MEDIA (NOT) AS A CREATION!

… “31-year-old Elton Metaj shot his ex-wife Sabrina Benga to death. Police announced that they have arrested the perpetrator this morning. Sabrina left behind a 2-year-old baby ”…

… “Albania: over 100 women and girls killed in 18 years…”

… “only in the first six months of 2021, there were 1549 requests for protection orders, 2436 cases of domestic violence, 383 cases more than in the same period of 2020″ …

… “From Tirana to Bubq, to kill his wife / Reasons for domestic crime a mystery, investigators: The woman was shot angrily several times by her husband”

… “The woman who died from the sexual abuse by her husband, justice is lacking still 6 years later …”

These headlines are a sad proof coming from the Albanian family. While everyone is quick to express their indignation on social networks or even with protests in the city, when the lights go out, we are all still left wondering where this violence comes from. Someone from the darkness says that it is the culture that breeds such displays, some others call on stage to blame modernity and the abandonment of tradition, while others remain silent in the face of the inability to give an answer or find a solution.

Thank God we live in the age of mass media. The media that informed us about murders, will also give us the answers!

It seems paradoxical, but today we experience reality based on the media we consume. For many authors, the reason why people see the world as a dangerous place lies in the way the media, especially television, reflects reality. But if the effects of many programs can be measured over time and generations, the transmission or high coverage of violence on the front pages of newspapers, major newscasts or through the bombastic headlines of portals, has a direct effect on the emergence of violence and the increase of opportunities for it to multiply in its harshest forms. Based on this theoretical finding, this article aims to address one of the most sensitive problems of Albanian society, that of gender-based violence and how the media can turn into an ally of good or evil, depending on reporting techniques or on the language used by its structures.

Media as a mirroring and the innocent journalist

In the Albanian public space, the thesis that the journalist is to blame for the news has begun to be articulated. Bias, lack of professionalism or the inability to know the circumstances well, seem to force many media people to fall prey to a report, which appears to be based on the principle “I said what I saw.” While such journalists may indeed work in our media, I tend to believe that the truth is not so clear-cut.

The individual does not operate alone, but is rather a being influenced by the anthropological/social trends of the environment. Having said that, the journalist moves within a media system, which nowadays is guided more by the principle of speed than of quality. The slogan “the first for the latest news” sounds ridiculous and at the same time alarms us when it should be reported that a murder has been committed, and details are given for the sake of a feigned truth, details which harm not only the victims, but also the audience.

There are many cases when the media coverage dedicated to murders is a long parade of private details of the victim, her relations with the family or even with the killer himself. Caught by this obsession, media have forgotten that their task is not only to convey information, but to go further with the elements of analysis of the facts, causes and consequences of such events. A person’s privacy should not only be protected by the journalist; it should be guaranteed by the media. The media is the system from which ethical reporting principles should be derived. The media should stop demanding that the journalist provide identifiable details, the location of the accident, photographs or other data. All these not only kill the victim once again, but create a domino effect of pain in the public perception, the reality of which is severely crippled by such displays.

Media as a creation of reality and the journalist as an agent of change

Feminism is one of the most important schools of critical thinking in the media. Numerous scholars have seen in the language of media products the terrain where the symbolic meanings of a culture collide, such as the role of women and men in society, stereotypes, prejudices, and more. All these scholars are united by the belief that language is a masculine construction and, as a social construct, has served men rather than women, who have suffered all the stigmatizations related to their gender on their shoulders.

One of the direct effects of the power of language used by the media is the normalization of violence against women. This effect has been built slowly, but powerfully, by the extraordinary sexualization of the media space, through advertisements, sexist images, roles given to women, and so on. Rigorously enforcing the liberal agenda where the female subject is a powerful quantitative subject, the media has fed audiences with the false idea of ​​an achieved equality, where the reality or chance of being killed is increasingly smaller. The media, aiming to impose a feminist dictatorship, which is in fact a sexist dictatorship, has even left without cover many women, whose protection would come precisely from the essential empowerment of their gender in the public space. Having said that, the media has again created distorted realities, forgetting that this power could also have been used to empower women, protecting their lives more.

A concrete contribution of the media would be the inclusion of a language which accurately shows the problems that women suffer in all television products, news, chronicles, shows, whichever they are. Economic incapacity, psychological or sexual abuse, online bullying, forced marriage or murder, are various forms of violence against women, forms which can be made more apparent by a media that tries not only to report, but also to educate audiences thanks to its power. At this point, the journalist ceases to be a media employee and turns into an agent of change, creating new models of reporting and constructing the news. The role of the media and future media professionals should focus on changing perceptions and behaviors about gender-based violence; only through the improvement of current reporting schemes, by means of a qualitative selection of topics as well as by identifying the sources used for news stories, can a new model of media reporting in society be brought about.

Metacommunication

Truth continues to remain a tempting category for modern philosophical thought. However, its practical possibilities seem to be captured by the post-truth world, where it is difficult to experience truth as an imperative category. The media seems to suffer more from this impossibility of ultimately touching the truth and, consequently, establishes a problematic relationship with it.

Sometimes, the media follows the myth of the mirror, with the idea that the truth will be revealed by it, and other times it strives to have creative power and build sublime realities, where the truth comes as the final value. Whichever path it takes to approach the truth, the media must understand that it is human, and the way it is conducted must also start from the principle of building a human world, where truth should not only be nurtured as a philosophy, but as an attempt by every human being who happens to spend some time on our planet.

Author: Irena Myzeqari

Photo: Bildagentur Zoonar GmbH/ Shutterstock