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Topic 45: Some people suggest that there should be restrictions on a detailed description of crimes in the newspapers and on television. To what extent do you agree or disagree?

The violent contents broadcasted by the mass media (the television and the printing press in particular) have been singled out in recent years as a matter of urgent public concern. It has been argued that a detailed description of crime, especially violent crime, should be restricted. I agree on this suggestion based on the following concerns.

There can be little doubt that a complete description of crimes has a direct impact on viewers' perception of crime, including its nature and impacts. Ongoing exposure to reports on crime scenes has desensitised viewers to the horrors of serious crimes such as homicide. Many TV programmes tend to dramatise the process of tracing criminals. So immersed are viewers in the storyline that few are encouraged to link the crime to a brutal, unsympathetic and devastating act. Meanwhile, hardly has any newspaper or TV editor carried out a follow-up study of convicting criminals. This form of representation fails to alert viewers to the fact that no criminal can stay at large and all offenders will be brought to justice.

Meanwhile, the depiction of violence is potentially the primary cause of "copycat" suicides, fights, shootings and bombings. People are inclined to vent their discontent in various ways, and one of the most common is violence. The documentary on a criminal or violent act provides them with role models, those characters who initiate most of the acts of violence on television. The portrayal of those characters encourages viewers to emulate violent behaviour, believing that their acts are likely to be acknowledged.

Despite its enormous effects on the audience, the description of crimes on television or newspapers should not be made a scapegoat for all social violence. It would divert people's attention from the root causes of violence. Some depictions of violence are likely to contribute to harmful effects on viewers, whereas other portrayals may be pro-social and beneficial for the audience. For example, many programmes encourage no-violent alternatives to solutions. Similarly, television and newspapers have played a significant role in educating the audience about the advantages of building a non-violence community and the inadvisability of excessive drinking, car racing, drug using and other unlawful acts.

As suggested above, media violence, including the detailed picturing of violent acts, contributes at least partly to social violence and to the audience's aggressive thoughts and behaviour. However, there is no simple cause-and-effect relationship between media violence and societal violence and both have multiple causes.

1. single out = select = highlight

2. horror = terror

3. dramatise = sensationalise = exaggerate = overstate

4. immersed m = absorbed in = engrossed by = captivated by

5. unsympathetic = uncaring = indifferent = cruel

6. follow-up = subsequent = following

7. convict = sentence = find somebody guilty

8. representation = portrayal = description = account

9. at large = free = at liberty

10. inadvisability = inappropriateness = unsuitability

11. unlawful = illegitimate = illegal = illicit

Date: 2015-12-17; view: 1340

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Topic 40: Some people think that telling the truth is not always essential. It is necessary to tell lies sometimes. To what extent do you agree or disagree? | Topic 46: We can get knowledge from news, but some people think we cannot trust journalists. What do you think? What qualities do you think a successful journalist should have?
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