Fueling fear, gloom through our TV sets

Even before the horrific massacre of five relatives in Agrinion on the weekend became publicly known, Saturday afternoon’s central news bulletin was steeped in bleak and depressing tidings. There was a veritable hailstorm of gloomy news, at least until 8.30 p.m., on virtually all television channels. These news reports might well be true but the method and rhythm of their presentation have more in common with an entertainment show than an informative program. In approximate order of presentation, these were the pieces of news with which we were bombarded on Saturday afternoon: 1. A Kalashnikov-bearing assailant raids a supermarket. 2. An elderly «dirty old man» makes indecent advances toward a 16-year-old youngster. 3. A drunken Pakistani lies in wait near a cramming school and rapes a female pupil. 4. As the number of burglaries skyrockets across Attica, the affluent municipality of Ekali has resorted to employing staff from a private security firm. The channel twice projects the image of a gun emerging from behind the curtain of a suburban home. 5. A maniac throwing stones at oncoming motorists manages to provoke a pileup on the Attiki Odos. 6. Another maniac, presumably, is found to have been targeting motorists on the same thoroughfare with an airgun. 7. In the wake of the suicide of a 13-year-old schoolboy in Kozani, depressed over his low grades, a police officer resigns so that he can devote more time to his children. 8. Babysitters are allegedly beating the infants they are employed to protect. 9. A woman speaks out against the physical abuse she has suffered at the hands of her hot-tempered husband. It appears that no one is safe, especially not women. If we stay at home, we are beaten. If we go shopping, we are in the sights of Kalashnikovs. If we decide to drive somewhere, our safety depends on the whims of a stone-throwing madman. We send our son to church to confess, and he is seduced. We send our daughter to cramming school, and she is raped. And if the babysitter is not beating the baby, then the husband is beating the wife. Pain, violence and crime are not the inventions of television. They exist in real life. But the news bulletins of certain private TV channels seem to thrive on misery while feeding us stories of terror, fear and mistrust.

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