Fear Mongering: The Media’s New Weapon

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The new fad has hit the news media: fear mongering. What is fear mongering? According to Oxford Dictionaries, fear mongering is “the action of deliberately arousing public fear or alarm about a particular issue”. Can you guess what issue the media is focusing on now? You got it! Ebola.

By picking and choosing the facts they want to publish, the news media curbs people’s opinions. This is unethical and against most principles of journalism. Journalists are supposed to be watchdogs of the government, informers of the public. They aren’t supposed to be slanting the article to direct the reader’s opinion. Journalists should give accurate information so that the reader can come up with their own view point.

Though we are just consumers of news, there are ways we can prevent fear mongering from touching us.

  • check the news source. Has it been reliable in the past? Does it get mocked constantly by commentary news shows like The Daily Show with Jon Stewart (*cough* Fox News *cough*)?
  • Another way you can prevent being influenced, get the news directly. Associate Press is one of my favorite news sites and Twitter channels. Why? It’s articles are used by thousands of newspapers in the United States. These articles are accurate, well written, and are unbiased.
  • You can always take the news into your own hands. Want to know what WHO is really doing about Ebola? Look at their website. Getting the official statements for yourself cuts the middleman out.

Unfortunately, this isn’t the first time the news media has equipped itself with fear mongering and it won’t be the last. But being mindful of what the news is doing can help us find the real information for ourselves.

Additional Information: Salon was nice enough to create a list of past instances fear mongering was used by the Republican Party. You can check out the article yourself here. The Huffington Post too has an article about politicians and fear mongering here. The British newspaper, The Guardian, has critiqued America about fear mongering just last month here.