Shock TV preys on students

Allegations that four schoolboys raped a 16-year-old female classmate on Evia have prompted a spate of bad reporting from the country’s sensationalist and scaremongering media. Sex scandals involving monasteries or rented apartments once dominated the news bulletins. These days the big news is «sex in schools,» preferably footage of group sex between pupils. Private channels offer naughty details about a school orgy while airing shocking though fuzzy footage from school bathrooms which, in the words of one silver-tongued anchorman, have become more like porn film sets. Some channels reproduced the testimony of the victim word for word in a slow, sensual fashion. They also aired the confession of one of the boys. The text scrolled on the screen as the news reader adjusted his voice for dramatic effect. Objectivity supposedly rules as both sides are awarded equal airtime. Captions such as «They treated me as if they were beasts» or «I was crying, screaming» are contrasted with others like «We made love using a condom» or «She bragged she had had sex with many men.» Shock journalism comes with cheap shots, pompous condemnations of xenophobia and haughty repetitions of the obvious («This could also happen outside Evia»). Young students, their backs to the camera, are interrogated by a journalist. A deputy minister watches the questioning from an adjacent window on the TV screen. Mothers incriminate the girl as her own mother rebukes the coverage on various channels. An army of lawyers, psychologists, parents and teachers make up the rest of the picture. The shocked audience then believes the truth is somewhere in the middle: That there were actually two alleged rapists. That the girl wanted to have sex but then changed her mind. It’s not about repressing facts. It’s about mining the truth without exploiting human pain.

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