Yesterday was one of the most horrific days in Australia with the Sydney siege. But I don’t want to talk about the actual event. Because it’s horrific and tragic and there is nothing that can be said that hasn’t already been said. I want to talk about the sensationalism of the media and the disgusting exploitation of this story.
Did we need rolling coverage of the story for almost 24 hours as it unfolded? Why weren’t hourly updates enough? Why did the police need to ask the media to not report elements of their movements? Shouldn’t this be understood? These are supposed to be media professionals but they exploited the story for ratings.
Channel 7 watermarked their footage of the days events like it was a marketing opportunity. Media outlets had speculation upon speculation as the siege unfolded, terrifying people and turning a national security incident into a spectator sport.
Websites filled up with articles for click bait. This one in particular by a website was a letter with ‘good thoughts’ to the hostages who were trapped in the cafe with no access to internet or twitter felt like tragedy porn and click bait.
It was an exploitation of a national security incident and one with people, whose identities were unknown at the time, whose lives were at risk. Those hostages have families and friends who were worried about them. Do you think it made them feel any better to see that self-important strangers on the internet were using their tragedy and their grief as click bait to increase traffic to a website that has a history of controversy, click bait, lack of professionalism and integrity.
The ‘look at me’ attitude in all of this is appalling. I didn’t even want to write this for fear of falling into the same category but I want to call people out on this bullshit. Rolling coverage is not necessary. Let the police do their jobs. Do not use tragedy to drive traffic to your website through sensationalist means. Do not capitalise on tragedy.
And we should call them out on it. Because it’s not something we should be okay with as a society.