How Harsh Can The Media Be?

I am from Minnesota. I don’t live in the UK but I have heard of Caroline Flack. The first time I heard about her was when One Direction was on X-Factor. She was the host of the show. I didn’t know about anything that was happening in her life last year to the beginning of this year because she is known in the US.

One day, I had an urge to search her name online at work. I wanted to know what was going on in her life. When I searched her name on Google, the first thing I saw was that she committed suicide 2 days ago. Even though I never knew Caroline Flack other than her dating Harry Styles, I was still upset at finding this out. I think it has to do with my thoughts on suicide and how I feel about it at times. When I think about suicide, I become more depressed and anxious. I feel like a failure and like everything I want is out of reach. In that moment, dying feels like the only way to be happy. I wouldn’t have to worry about the negative happening.

From what I have read in the news about Caroline Flacks life before,  she was let go from the UK show she was hosting. They made the decision to let her go because she was forced to go on trial for supposedly throwing a lamp at her boyfriend. It cut his head and he needed stitches. After the events that followed, there was no bad blood between them. They didn’t want to move forward with charges and move on from it. Unfortunately the laws around cases like this are different in the UK. They don’t get to make that decision.

For someone who’s career is in the spotlight, I can only imagine how hard that is to deal with. The true event’s got twisted to make it seem like it was Caroline’s fault and like her career was over. She was pinned as abusive. No one in the media cared about what her and her boyfriend had to say. They only wrote about what they could figure out and what they felt about it. When these stories started surfacing, people started sending her extremely rude comments. I wasn’t able to find examples of the comments, but I have an idea of what they could have been like. People like send nasty comments to struggling people to feel better about their life and because they believe the media despite knowing they aren’t honest. Online comments hurt as much as hearing them said to you in person.

The media is no exception to that. The Sun published an illustration before valentines day in the shape of a card with drawing similar to Carline Flack with long blond hair. Underneath the drawing, it read “I’ll fucking lamp you.” How would you feel if you woke up and saw this in the media? A couple days later when they found out she committed suicide, they deleted the illustration.

The Guardian wrote an article showing the number of negative and positive articles over a period of 6 months from the day she died in February 2020. From August 2019 to October 2019, there was an equal number of positive and negative articles. When it was announced in October2019 Caroline would be host a show about the public receiving free plastic surgery, there was a massive increase in negative articles. In December 2019, there was another increase in negative articles because news broke about what happened with her boyfriend. In February 2020 when the trial was announced, the media was still publishing negative stories. The Sun was one of them. Only 18% of the 387 stories published in those six months were positive.

These numbers make me wonder if anyone monitors what gets published at these media outlets. If I worked for them, I wouldn’t let articles be published that bully someone. People who are in the public deserve the same respect as anyone who isn’t in the public eye.

Mental health is even harder to deal with when everywhere you turn people you are reminded of lies being spread. Not everyone feels this way. Showbiz reporter Sarah-Louise Robertson said “I think people blaming the press, dog-piling on to journalists, is lazy, it’s wrong, it’s naive calling journalists murderers, saying they’ve got blood on their hands… it’s not only hypocritical, two wrongs do not make a right.” She also goes on to say Caroline Flack knew she needed the press. She was friends with many journalists and editors. Many things they know about her were never published because of how close they were to Caroline. “It’s not the media’s fault Caroline was sadly, very sadly, suicidal and depressed,” Sarah said.

I don’t agree with this. Caroline may have had friends who worked in the media, but you can’t assume she was friends with the people who published the negative articles and that she asked or wanted the lies published. Sarah is right that it’s not the media’s fault for what happened to Caroline. The media did play a part though. She might not had been bullied online if lies weren’t spread and the media was bullying her.

Caroline was dealing with mental health issues long before this happened. Many things cause one person to feel like suicide is the only way out. This doesn’t mean the media didn’t play a role in leading her to that point.

This story wasn’t big news in the US but it is still important. Many celebrities in the US have tried speaking up about the media bullying them and how it affects their mental health, yet nothing is ever done. Caroline might not had felt pushed to the breaking point if the media wasn’t encouraging bullying and spreading lies to make her seem like a horrible person.

What are your thoughts on the media and how they affect the mental health of people in the public eye? How do you feel about what happened to Caroline Flack.

3 thoughts on “How Harsh Can The Media Be?

  1. It sounds the tabloid press in the UK is even worse than in the US, and all they’re after is sensationalism. But then again, social media has demonstrated that “regular people” are just as sensation-driven and cruel. People really need to recognize that there are actual human beings involved in all of this.

    Liked by 1 person

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