In January of 2010, Cycle 5′s Bre Scullark posted an article in HoneyMag Magazine. Here is the text from the article (written by Bre Scullark):

The Swarm: Bre Sounds Off

While watching the news and reading a variety of blogs over the past few days, I noticed a familiar theme taking shape.  One headline read:CNN’s Anderson Cooper Rescues Boy from Looters in Haitianother read: Looting Flares Where Order Breaks Down,” while yet another media outlet reported:  “Troops Take on Looters in Haiti.”

It’s starting to sound very much like the picture that was painted about victims after the Hurricane Katrina catastrophe: starving men and women of a natural disaster being described as nothing more than criminals by the press. Hearing these victims referred to as looters feels both hurtful and confusing.  Are these people thieves or are they just hungry?

I can only image how someone who has just lost everything – family, friends and all material possessions – might feel. They don’t recognize anyone or anything around them and have likely not enjoyed basic necessities like clean water or food for days.  If by some chance I were in their shoes and happened to stumble across food and water, I would not hesitate to take whatever I could.   This is common sense, is it not?  I would not consider my actions to be wrong in light of the situation.  How could anyone blame me? I’m disoriented, exhausted, emotionally crippled and starving! To find out later I was labeled a looter in global newspapers would not only be unimaginable but leave me feeling distraught.  I would probably wonder if the people labeling me a looter spoke the same language. What’s the benefit in misrepresenting my actions? Who does it help for me to be viewed this way?  Could it be that the word “looter” is more provocative and enticing? Whatever the answer to these questions,  I’m just not sure how I could rationalize them labeling me as such.

It’s no secret that media outlets have long made inaccurate assessments and embellished situations in order to increase their audience and earn more advertising dollars.  In today’s economy, where media outlets like Air America go bankrupt  every day, who could blame them for feeling that publishing racy headlines is more compelling.  As a victim in Haiti, taking food that I didn’t pay for, because without it I would die, is no different than a media outlet creating sensationalized headings in order to sell more newspapers.  They too are trying to survive. These are both acts of desperation; but because the media’s voice is bigger, their tactics of survival are overlooked while Haiti’s sick and starving are being perceived as criminals. Personally, I believe it’s time to turn the light on and place blame where it belongs: the press.  We need to continually question not just what is being written and shown in the media, but why.  We need to ask deeper questions like, who gains from these types of negative labeling and at what cost? Honestly, it is purely inhumane to use someone else’s misfortune and then manipulate it for monetary gain. This is exactly what these media outlets are doing with Haiti coverage. I’m really saddened and embarrassed at how we treat our fellow man.

-Bre

To learn more about Cycle 5’s Bre Scullark, visit her bio page here.

Source: HoneyMag