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Now the Details

Media, ethics, and journalism. What works. What doesn't.

Jeffrey Dvorkin

Saturday, September 22, 2012

Are the Media Making Us Fat?

More specifically, it noted that children don't play outside after school. Sandlot baseball, street hockey or just running around the local playground seem to be from a bygone era.

A recent story on CBC Radio referred to how little exercise people in general are getting.

In fact, wandering around any urban or suburban area after 4 pm, there is a particular absence of children. It reminds me of a "Twilight Zone" episode where no one under 18 can be found.

With an obesity epidemic rampant among children we are told by the media, is due to kids' addiction to television, video games and junk food. School programs are also cutting back on organized sports.

There may be another factor contributing to the absence of kids on the streets: crime reporting.

Most local media engage in widespread panic-mongering. There seems to be no end of stories about missing and abused children, the prevalence of street gangs and random violence, so it's not surprising children are being kept indoors.

As a university teacher, I've had a number of moms (and a few dads) come to my office worried about their daughters' safety on campus. I've assured them that it's unlikely that any harm will come to their child and that being helicopter parents (hovering) doesn't help their child's quest for independence.

In fairness, some of these parents are from overseas, and perhaps unfamiliar with our North American ways. More likely, they have seen and read stories that confirm their image of our so-called violent surroundings.

These anxieties come from the constant barrage of media stories about crime and violence, even as the crime rate throughout Canada in general and Toronto in particular continues to fall. It is true that there are more crimes being committed with handguns, but even so, the murder rate continues to decline.

As local news seems increasingly addicted to telling lurid tales of city life, its no wonder that citizens who increasingly rely on TV news for their information, are being terrorized off the streets.

The result is a generation of the ill-informed and the overweight. It's another example of how poorly served we are by local media.

1 comment:

  1. Bless you for taking a few minutes to publish this. I do believe that there are more desirable solutions.