#48 - Responsibility of the press
In the June 10, 2000 issue of the Augusta Chronicle there was a headline "Border agents watch as men drown in river". The short article was about two Mexican youths who drowned in the Rio Grande trying to reach the United States. The Border Patrol blocked entry in the United States and they drowned going back to Mexico.
The article says Mexican Television replayed the drowning numerous times on Mexican TV. It also states the United States agents may have been unaware of the drowning. The Mexican immigrant protection agents tossed ropes, but did not enter the water.
The article infers that Mexican Television was implying that the United States Border Agents should have tried to rescue the youths. Also the article clearly implicates the Mexican agents because they " didn't enter the water to try to save them". No reports are included on attempts by the Mexican Television crew to save the youths.
Now my question is: What is the responsibility of the press? Obviously one responsibility all will agree on is to cover the story. But the question is: Is that all? The border agents on each side of the only did their job. The united States agents to prevent illegal immigrants, and the Mexican agents seeing a drowning attempted to save the youths with ropes. The United States agents, the story reports may have not known the plight of the youths after turning them back.
The television press stood there and filmed it and from all indications that is all they did. Why do they expect the United States and Mexican agents to go beyond the call of duty and save these youths when they did nothing? Too often we watch the press be concerned only with getting the story and implicating others when they could have helped.
I realize that often the press does drop the possible career-making story to help. Too many times though it appears the opposite. It's not just a problem in the United States and Mexico, but an international one. Remember the report on the death of Princess Diana. A few years ago the comic strip "For Better of Worse" ran a similar story line about the boy who is becoming a professional newswriter and photographer. I hope that each of us can work harder at being part of the solution rather than the problem. The better news that morning would have been "TV crew saves youths who almost drown in the Rio Grande".
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