Undeniably, media outlets hold a significant sway over the formation of public opinion and societal perspectives. Hence, it is imperative that they weigh the ramifications of their coverage, the individuals they engage in discourse, and the ideas they disseminate.
A recent incident on a programme aired on national television, in which a panelist asserted that people born with a disability are the result of original sin highlights the need for media outlets to prioritise truth, fairness, and quality content over sensationalism.
Media channels have a responsibility to ensure that their content is not only engaging but also respectful and inclusive. Inviting guests with controversial beliefs can be enlightening when done responsibly, but there is a fine line between encouraging diverse perspectives and promoting harmful ideologies. In the case of the panelist who claimed disabilities were linked to sin, the production team should have been more diligent in their selection. It is their duty to scrutinise the viewpoints of their guests and ensure that harmful or baseless claims are not given a platform.
The assertion made during that programme is not only unfounded but also harmful. That belief does not align with scientific evidence and is deeply hurtful to individuals with disabilities and their families. In a society that has made significant strides in embracing diversity and inclusivity, the media must exercise caution to avoid spreading divisive or discriminatory ideas. While freedom of speech is a fundamental right, communication organisations must not abidcate their responsibility of filtering content and promoting responsible journalism. They should focus on delivering quality content that informs and educates their audiences.
Sensationalism and the pursuit of popularity can undermine the integrity of journalism. The public trusts the media to provide reliable information and facilitate constructive dialogue. When the media prioritises controversy and outrage over truth and quality, they not only fail in their duty but also risk eroding public trust.
Instead of exploiting controversial statements for the sake of ratings, why not prioritise fact-checking, impartiality, and ethical reporting? What about investing in educating viewers and readers, encouraging critical thinking, and promoting open, informed discussions? This would ultimately lead to a better-informed and more inclusive society.
The recent incident on national television underscores the significant responsibility that media outlets bear in shaping public perception and discourse. They should, therefore, carefully consider the content they present and the guests they invite, ensuring that they do not propagate baseless or harmful beliefs.
While sensationalism may generate short-term attention, it erodes trust and detracts from the media’s essential mission: delivering quality, informative content that enriches society and promotes understanding.