Sometimes I get so frustrated with the evening news that I can barely watch! Usually, this is due to basic errors that reveal a general lack of fact checking. While those at the news may not think its important to properly distinguish between viruses and bacteria, to me calling Chlamydia a virus brings to question what else they could be getting wrong.
What I’ve been noticing lately though is something a little more insidious; news broadcasts are often careless with the stock footage they show during reports.
For instance, on tonight’s KTVU 6 o’clock news two stories caught my eye. The first was reporting that California is considering passing a law allowing abortions to be performed by health professionals other than doctors. What rubbed me the wrong way though, was the extensive footage of Planned Parenthood throughout this segment. Planned Parenthood does more than just provide abortions but this segment would have only strengthened some peoples’ perception that this is their main objective.
The segment that immediately followed got me even more riled up. In a story reporting on a possible link between autism and PCB exposure, KTVU used stock footage showing administration of an MMR vaccine. Ummmm, what? The story had nothing to do with vaccines. Had the study in question found that PCBs were found at dangerous levels in vaccines, that would have been one thing. As it was, vaccines weren’t mentioned it all. So why show images of them?
This type of casual association can be dangerous not only because it is clearly reflecting the biases of the broadcaster, but also in its ability to perpetuate stereotypes and misinformation. Much has been made, rightly so, of the harm that unrealistic photoshopped images can do to self esteem in girls and women, but I wonder how much attention is being given to these other potentially harmful images?