Back in the day, I thought seriously about a career in journalism, as the passion was stirred at a very early age. However, I now see that I have the best of both worlds in 2017, with other careers and still investing heavily in the written word. I am a better person for having chosen different paths, for when we examine the current journalistic landscape, at times, it is appalling!
I look for the always credible, the sure-footed people in this crazy world of news who can navigate the minefields and come out unscathed, and always ring true. The real question is where do we draw the line? Or, has the line moved so far afield it feels nonexistent? Exactly!
Do we spend our limited energy daily on separating hype from rumor from fact? No, we often run it through our personal common sense filter and then do further research if it is of real interest. The rest is often just nonsense. However, we do live in an age where the unbelievable with respect to apparent disintegrating moral values makes virtually anything possible.
All that aside, we have to maintain a personal sense of right and wrong, even if it may have shifted a bit in terms of societal standards. Some look for others to blame; the desperate Democrats, the raucous Republicans, the intolerable President, the manipulative media.
I am of the belief it really doesn’t matter where the blame lies as they all feed into each other like sharks looking for their next meal. Enter fake news. When did the biggies of journalism, politicians, the uninformed and sad individuals seeking attention become so desperate for the status quo that they felt it necessary to make up news in one-upmanship?
What is vital is the aftermath, the collateral damage done to persons who do not have a dog in the fight and are dragged in any way. Victims of violent crime whether it be a homicide, missing persons, rape, sexual assault, intimate partner violence, etc. are already compromised in terms of coping with their day-to-day existence due to grief, loss, intolerable pain and lack of will to withstand the fight.
The general public sees our society becoming ever violent and does not want to join the victimization club, ever! Those of us who have graduated from victimization and are squarely in the survivor camp can help others to maintain hope, and assist in educating and creating awareness for others.
Another strike against victims are the flagrant biases that the media and some law enforcement and judicial agencies perpetuate. Children are rightfully seen as the most vulnerable and all important when it comes to crime. However, the unspoken message is that Caucasians still get first class treatment compared to any minority in any context. Within such classifications, the public often makes value judgments concerning people, and particular lifestyles.
Assumptions are so ingrained that it’s difficult to garner attention to the fact that, for example, young men are not all irresponsible, macho, beer guzzling creatures who walk off into the night, abandoning all responsibilities and family ties. And yet, this is told to us by the police, by people who don’t really know.
As sure as our parents told us that only girls are supposed to play with dolls, this is true. This is the barometer that some people use. Boys to men fend for themselves, always. They don’t go missing, get kidnapped or are forced to do things against their will because they are males. This is simply an untrue and unfair portrayal at a time when families need all of the credible resources they can gather just to keep their loved one in the forefront of media, competing with all the rest.
When this fallacy about how young males don’t go missing continues, to have fake news intruded upon them is unconscionable. Such was the case with the family of Damien Sharp recently.
A fake news organization article was recently posted on Facebook concerning his case with no direct contact information to law enforcement nor accurate information regarding its content. Imagine the horror when Damien’s family discovered this very hurtful, potentially damaging innuendo. Not only is this family approaching their 15th anniversary of Damien’s disappearance (May 25, 2002) and potential homicide while operating within the reality of gender bias, they have to deal with a fake news posting as well. This truly is cruel and unusual punishment for a family who needs resolution and peace of mind.
The number of missing persons at any one time in the U.S. (2017) according to Silvia Pettem researcher and author, is 100,000.
We don’t need to venture far to illustrate this point further, for an estimate of the number of missing persons cases posted on the CUE Center for Missing Persons website. The number of young males below 30 or young male children initially posted having reached young adulthood over the years is significant.
We have to do everything in our power to give families with male members equal time in the realm of crime reporting and media attention. We have to resist gender bias and believe the information given by families and not rely on well-worn stereotypes that serve no purpose. Toward that end, as a crime victim Advocate, I can try to do my part by featuring Damien’s case as one of gender bias in the media on my radio show.
Toward that end, as a crime victim advocate, I can try to do my part by featuring Damien’s case as one of gender bias in the media on my radio show. Stay tuned for this important podcast for Shattered Lives Radio in June!
And …Stay away from fake news- Trust your head and your heart. LJ
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