This is a GP Media essay question that was featured in a 2017 H1 Prelim Paper by Dunman High School (DHS).
Admittedly, this question is a rather tough one. To answer this question, we have to understand the intended functions of the media and the actual functions it has in reality.
It also requires the writer to judge whether objective truth should be spiced up through sensationalism, and in what special circumstances can it be done.
In today’s media landscape, as attention spans shorten and our appetite for entertainment enlarges, we see the rise of “infotainment” (a portmanteau of “information” and “entertainment”). It helps media corporations to sell through sensationalism.
Some questions you can ask yourself to dig deeper:
- Does this distort the media’s intended purpose to convey truth?
- What happens when corporations make the truth interesting?
- Should we strike a balance between conveying the truth and making it interesting?
As always, First Class GP will be giving you a model answer with several arguments and examples for this tough GP Media essay question that will be useful in your revision.
The Ultimate Cheat Sheet to Answer whether the purpose of the media is not just to convey the truth, but to make it interesting
Firstly, let’s argue that the media should just convey the truth rather than make it interesting.
Point 1: It is the duty of the media to be as truthful as possible. Any attempt to make it interesting might dilute its value.
- The Los Angeles times published a photograph that had been manipulated to exaggerate culpability of American soldiers in Afghanistan. The doctored photograph was later exposed and the journalist was reprimanded.
Point 2: The pursuit of interesting content may sometimes encourage media companies to push the boundaries.
- News of the World, Rupert Mudoch’s company, hacked into the voicemail of celebrities and a family of a murdered rape victim just to gather interesting content. The scandal was exposed and the newspaper company was eventually shut down.
Now, explain to the examiner why the media should make the truth interesting.
Point 1: Sensationalism sells. It is no secret that readers want interesting content.
- Rupert Murdoch started his empire by selling tabloids. He is known as the inventor of Modern Tabloids – with catchy titles and juicy stories and images
Point 2: Readers are unable to decide what is important and what is not. Media companies should direct the readers’ attention appropriately, perhaps by making it more interesting than less critical news.
- During the deadly Darfur Protests in 2019, the Straits Times reported seemingly trivial news of how one nanny overfed a local celebrity’s baby. The article received backlash from netizens.
Let’s give an evaluation of the last point made to strengthen the essay.
Evaluation : News companies do not determine what is interesting and what is not. The readers have the final say on what commands interests and newspapers just respond accordingly.
- When Princess Dianna died in 1997, the world was grieving over the death of one of the biggest divas of her time. Yet, few people realised that Mother Teresa also passed away soon after Princess Dianna. Her death and legacy received way less publicity that she deserved.
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