With the recent protests and violence, especially by white nationalist groups, questions have been raised as to whether the media has given too much publicity to these groups, which are tiny in numbers when compared to the general population.
It is a known fact that these “hate” groups crave publicity. The members believe that the more publicity they receive, the more members they can get.
Even though they are small in number, these groups probably do receive an overabundance of publicity. The media can’t ignore their actions completely and when their protests involve violence, it is news. Most of the overkill comes from television, a medium that does a great job of bringing breaking news into our homes and many other places. Some newspapers are guilty, too, of giving too much space to radical groups.
Television stations usually are in a very competitive market and each wants to be first in ratings. If people trust their reporting and they do a good job, ratings score high because of the number of viewers they have. That means when selling advertising they can point to the latest ratings and it is a selling tool. Most newspapers have websites and for them the number of page views a month is important in gaining advertising. The Missourian, for instance, averages around 950,000 page views a month. That’s important to advertisers. Circulation of printed matter is important in selling advertising.
Where to draw the line in coverage of radical groups can be a tough judgment call. Cable television outlets that concentrate chiefly on news often are guilty of giving too much time to protests, which results in too much publicity to hate groups.
The latest Time magazine has comprehensive coverage of “Hate in America” that is worth reading. Hate is embedded in some people in all nations and can be the result of many experiences. It’s sad to say, but some people were brought up in a hate environment in their homes. Others, because of their status in life, become bitter and that breeds hate. The uneducated can become hateful. For some, joining a hate group gives them a false sense of belonging to a cause, and uplifts them to a false sense of power and prestige.
Hate in some people can’t be overcome. It can’t be eradicated. It always has been with us. But the important thing to remember is that hate is only with a very small number of people.
The media, especially television and some internet sites, needs to be more careful in time and space given to radical groups, but it should never fail to inform people of what is going on around them.