Look at two people's opinions on television news. Which person do you most agree with?
"The public has a right to know what's happening. I think they should not cut out anything. People are mature enough to take in the reality of what happens in the world every day."
"TV news sometimes seems more like a show. They want a bigger audience so they show shocking or provocative images. TV news should report the news, not try to shock people."
Can you think of a recent example of something sensational appearing on the news?
Read the letter and answer this question:
Does the wrirer have a point or is (s)he being too sensitive?
TO THE PRODUCER(S) AT CHANNEL 8
I must say that I was shocked and outraged by your broadcast of the images of the Concorde crash last week. Was it really necessary to show the plane actually going down? This was prime-time television. Did it not occur to you that there are children watching at 8 o'clock in the evening? My 7-year-old little girl didn't sleep for three nights! The images still haunt me now as they will for a long time, I am sure. How dare you traumatise people's lives like that!
I am a responsible parent who believes that it is the job of news agencies to report the news without showing unnecessarily sensational or graphic images simply to attract viewers. The terrible things that happen in the world are not meant to be used as entertainment nor to increase your ratings.
You can be sure that I will no longer be watching your television news broadcast and I will be encouraging all my friends and relatives to boycott it too.
1. Which one of the factors below do you think most motivated the parent to write the letter?
The time of the broadcast.
The fact that the images showed people dying.
The fact that children were watching.
The fact that the images unnecessary.
The suspicion that tbe images were used to improve the station's rating?
2. Would the same factor have motivated you to write a letter?
3. Do you agree with the parent? Why/why not?
4. Do you think a letter like this one would have any effect on the producers of the the news programme?
5. Do you think the parent who wrote the letter is a father or a mother? Why?
Work in groups of three or four. You are a team of news editors at a national television station. The news programme is broadcast during prime time when children will be watching. Look at today's possible stories and decide together whether the images should be broadcast or not. lf they cannot be broadcast at prime time, could they be shown in the late news, or should the film clips be censored completely?
1. Protest: images of protesters and activists being excessively beaten by police.
2. Fashion show: hot fashion designer Roberto Nudo, shows his new line of transparent evening wear most of the models' bodies can be seen almost as if they were wearing nothing.
3. Report on violence in films: examples of violent scenes from current blockbuster movies which have been criticised for having too much violence.
4. Suicide: a relatively unknown politician commits suicide by shooting himself in the head all caught on film.
5. War: fighting breaks out in a sensitive region of the world, graphic images of casualties on both sides.
6. Prison riot: a riot erupts in a large overcrowded prison; images include the decapitation of three inmates.
7. Special report on drinking and driving: film clips of the scene of serious accidents caused by drunken drivers, including images of dead bodies and families of the victims.
8. Bank robbery caught on film: policeman shot dead. The camera shows a pool of blood on the floor of the bank next to the body.
9. Middle East conflict: child shot dead when caught in crossfire between Israeli and Palestinian soldiers pictures of the dead child being carried by his father and mother.
10. Freak weather: a large wave drags ten people into the sea caught on home-video.
11. Report on the safety of the meat trade: scenes showing pigs, cows and sheep being slaughtered in abattoirs.
12. Ice hockey: a player is left blind in one eye after an attack by another player. The slow-motion camera shows exactly how it happened
in graphic detail.
Report your decisions to the class.
Complete these expressions with words from above:
a. excessively ... by police
b. a relatively... politician
c. fighting ... out
d. a sensitive ... of the world
e. a large ... prison
f. ... clips
g. shot ...
h. caught in ...
i. freak ...
j. the meat ...
k. left ... in one eye
l . in ... detail
Which countries today have censorship of the press and television? Why?
Has your country ever had censorship? When? Why?
Do you think the internet will make censorship a thing of the past?
ls This News?
audience [ˈɔːdiəns] a particular group of people who watch, read or listen to the same thing
broadcast [ˈbrɔːdkɑːst] (broadcast) to send out programmes on television or radio
casualty [ˈkæʒuəlti] a person who is killed or injured in war or in an accident; Pl casualties.
haunt [hɔːnt] if smth unpleasant haunts you, it keeps coming to your mind so that you cannot forget it.
mature [məˈtʃʊə(r)] fully grown and developed; behaving in a sensible way, like an adult
occur [əˈkɜː(r)] to happen; occur to smb to come into smb's mind
prime-time the time when the greatest number of people are watching television or listening to the radio
provocative [prəˈvɒkətɪv] intended to make people angry or upset
scene [siːn] the place where something happens
shock (v) to surprise and upset somebody
shoot [ʃuːt] (shot) to make a film/movie; to kill or wound smb with a bullet
traumatise [ˈtrɔːmətaɪz] to shock and upset somebody very much
viewer [ˈvjuːə(r)] a person watching a (television) programme
violent [ˈvaɪələnt] involving or caused by physical force that is intended to hurt or kill somebody
attract (v) (viewers, attention)
broadcast [ˈbrɔːdkɑːst](v; n)
catch (caught) on film
censor (v) (film clips)
censorship [ˈsensəʃɪp] (n)
cut out (cut)
image [ˈɪmɪdʒ ] of smth
occur to smb
report the news (v);
(make) report on smth (n)
shock (v; n)
violent scenes [ˈvaɪələnt]
1. Fill in the gaps in the sentences below, using the words in the box:
a) occur, b) violent, c) mature, d) haunts, e) audience f) shot, g) scene , h) shocked
1) Jane is very ____ for her age. 2) Neighbours were ____that such an attack could happen in their area.
3) The movie was ___in black and white. 4) It didn't ____ to him to ask for help. 5) The memory of that day still ____ me. 6) Children should not be allowed to watch ___movies. 7) His book reached an even wider____ when it was made into a movie. 8) Italy was the ____ of many demonstrations at that time.
3. Use English to explain the following: E.g. Prime-time is the time when the greatest number of people are watching television or listening to the radio
1. provocative images, 2. sensational images, 3. violent scenes, 4. a national television station, 5. sensitive region of the world, 6. a responsible parent.